NEW YORK -- On Tuesday night, left-hander Ross Detwiler demonstrated why he was selected to be in the Nationals' rotation over lefty John Lannan.
Detwiler pitched five scoreless innings and helped the Nationals defeat the Mets, 6-2, at Citi Field. Detwiler allowed two hits -- both coming in the first inning -- struck out six batters and walked one. At one point, Detwiler retired 10 straight hitters with four strikeouts.
His most impressive inning came in the bottom of the first. After allowing hits to Ruben Tejada and Ronny Cedeno to start the game, Detwiler struck out Daniel Murphy, got Jason Bay to pop up to Ryan Zimmerman at third base and fanned Lucas Duda to end the frame. Detwiler continued to dominate the rest of his start.
"I was leaving the ball up a little bit, especially the second hit [in the first inning]," Detwiler said. "My pitch selection was off a little bit. Right there, I knew I needed to kind of snap [out of it] or it was going to get out of hand pretty quick."
Said Mets manager Terry Collins, "As you saw, Detwiler can be very, very tough on lefties, as he showed in the first inning on Murphy and Duda. Against a guy like that, your right-handed hitters have got to produce for you. But [the Nationals have] a good pitching staff. Boy, I'll tell you, you've better be ready up there. They've got good arms and they come right after you. We've certainly got to be prepared for tomorrow."
According to Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, Detwiler's best pitch was the sinker. It took five pitches into the game to figure it out. Detwiler ended up getting six ground-ball outs. Ramos said Detwiler shook him off only twice in the game.
"That was the best pitch for the night," Ramos said. "I kept calling for the sinker a lot. That was the key for the game."
Manager Davey Johnson had announced before the game that Detwiler would go no more than five innings, because he was one pitcher that Johnson didn't stretch out enough during Spring Training. Detwiler, who spent most of Spring Training as a long reliever, threw 71 pitches Tuesday.
"He probably could have given me another inning, but he didn't have a full spring starting. It was an outstanding effort on his part," Johnson said.
Detwiler didn't know he was in the rotation until a week ago Tuesday, when the team was playing the Red Sox in an exhibition game at Nationals Park. He thought Johnson was joking with him when he was given the good news. That same day, Lannan was told that he was being optioned to Triple-A Syracuse. The news was shocking, at first, because Johnson had said for several days that Lannan was his fifth starter.
"I thought I heard [Johnson] right," Detwiler said. "I kept walking. I was going through my head the inning I got done with [against the Red Sox]. Cat [pitching coach Steve McCatty] came up to me and said, 'He told you, didn't he?' I said, 'Yeah, was he serious?' It really didn't sink in until I threw my bullpen [session] in Chicago."
Detwiler was given run support in the first, when leadoff hitter Ian Desmond swung at a 2-0 pitch from Mets starter Dillion Gee and homered over the left-field wall.
Washington added to its lead in the sixth inning off Gee. Zimmerman scored on a single by Jayson Werth, who would later touch home plate in the inning on an error by Murphy at second base. Later in the inning, with reliever Bobby Parnell pitching, Xavier Nady would come home on a double by Wilson Ramos.
In the next inning, Werth drove in his second run with a single up the middle. Werth went 4-for-5 in the contest. Prior to the game, Werth was 1-for-14 (.071), but he felt he was getting good at-bats. He even had a conversation with Johnson, who told him to be himself and express his talent.
Werth did. He ended up having his best game as a member of the Nationals.
"We had a good talk before the game and he was in a good frame of mind," Johnson said. "He is so driven to do so well -- sometimes that can get in your way."
Werth said he was more focused on being relaxed at the plate.
"Looking back, really, that is something I have done in the past and has been a focus. Hopefully, I will continue to do that," Werth said.
The Mets would score their first run in the seventh inning off reliever Craig Stammen. Bay scored on a single by Justin Turner.
In the top of the eighth inning, Zimmerman collected his 500th RBI. He became the first member of the Nationals to accomplish such a feat.
With Miguel Batista on the mound, Zimmerman flied out to Duda, but Ramos scored on the play.
In the bottom of the eighth, Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard allowed an RBI double off the bat of Cedeno.
With the victory, the Nationals are 3-2 on the season.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.