NEW YORK — Rain or shine, the Washington Nationals have trouble scoring runs.
Jonathon Niese pitched seven sharp innings, some of them in heavy showers, and Justin Turner hit a two-run double that sent the New York Mets to a 3-0 victory over the light-hitting Nationals on Wednesday night.
Quiet nights at the plate are nothing new for the Nats. They began the day ranked last in the NL in batting average (.225), on-base percentage (.298), slugging (.348), hits (302), total bases (467) and doubles (57).
"There's nothing to do except work your way out of it, and our guys are doing that," manager Jim Riggleman said. "We've kind of showed signs of it a couple times that we're coming out of it, but it's been a little elusive to really get it going. But the effort, the intensity has been there."
With maybe a few thousand hardy souls in the stands on another soggy night at Citi Field, the Mets' depleted lineup scratched out enough offense to help Niese (3-4) win his second consecutive start.
Playing without injured regulars David Wright, Ike Davis and Angel Pagan, New York won for the eighth time in 12 games and tied Washington for fourth place in the NL East.
The Nationals managed eight hits but were shut out for the sixth time this season.
"We've just got to click as a team. We're just waiting for that one big hit," shortstop Ian Desmond said.
Jason Bay had a sacrifice fly in the first inning and Turner cracked a two-out double in the sixth to chase Tom Gorzelanny (2-3) after 116 pitches. Jose Reyes singled three times, drew an intentional walk and scored twice from his leadoff spot.
"I've never played in anything like that," Niese said. "It's the wettest I've ever been pitching. ... Every ball the umpire gave me was wet. I had to do my best to rub them dry in my hands."
With deep puddles forming on the infield, Jason Isringhausen worked a one-hit eighth and Francisco Rodriguez got three outs for his 13th save in 14 chances. With two on, he retired pinch-hitter Laynce Nix and then Roger Bernadina on consecutive flyouts to left.
Both teams were rained out Tuesday night — the Nationals at home against Pittsburgh, and the Mets at home against the Marlins. That came after New York and Florida played through the mist on a muddy track Monday night.
The announced attendance Wednesday was 24,527, but nearly all the seats were empty and hecklers could be heard from the stands.
"It was wet and rainy just like it looked, but I think all of us were kind of itching to play," Desmond said. "We were ready to get back out there."
After some torrential rain in the afternoon, the heavy stuff stopped in time to start the game on time — with no more than a couple hundred fans in the ballpark.
The grounds crew worked hard between innings all night to try to dry out the infield and it was absolutely pouring when Bernadina grounded out with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
Still, play went on without interruption.
"I thought the grounds crew did a great job. It got a little touchy a couple times but I don't think it had any effect on the play of the game. Maybe I'm missing something," Riggleman said. "Nobody got hurt. I don't think there were errors made because of the conditions or anything like that."
Reyes hit a leadoff single in the first, went to third on Turner's double and scored on Bay's sacrifice fly.
Scott Hairston reached on an infield single to start the sixth, easily beating a throw from his brother, Jerry, at third base. With two outs and first base open, Reyes was intentionally walked to bring up Turner. He doubled to center over the head of the speedy Bernadina, who was playing shallow.
"He got a good pitch that he could handle," Bernadina said. "It was big for them."
Before that hit, New York was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
NOTES: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said RHP Stephen Strasburg is preparing to throw off a mound "any day now," the next step in his recovery from Sept. 3 elbow surgery. ... Washington OF Rick Ankiel (right wrist) is close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment and could be back in about a week. ... Riggleman said Matt Stairs will probably be the leading candidate to DH against right-handed pitching this weekend in Baltimore. ... 3B Ryan Zimmerman, who had surgery to repair a tear in his abdominal muscle on May 3, is at least three weeks away from returning, Riggleman said. ... The Nationals said Rizzo's grandfather, Vito, died Sunday in Chicago from natural causes. He was 103. Vito Rizzo also was the father of Nationals senior adviser to the general manager Phil Rizzo. "My grandfather was a long time Chicago railroad worker, who doubled as a terrific semi-professional ballplayer. A lifelong fan and student of baseball, it was his passion for the game that sparked careers in baseball for my father and myself," Mike Rizzo said in a statement. ... There was a moment of silence before the game for Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew, who died Tuesday at age 74.
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