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Lopez struggles through 4 innings vs. Mets

MLB.com @WashingNats

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Max Scherzer had originally been scheduled to face the Mets on Sunday night at Citi Field, but the Nationals decided to give him an extra day of rest and let right-hander Reynaldo Lopez start instead, but Lopez couldn't get past the fourth inning and the Mets defeated the Nationals, 5-1.

When Lopez, who had been working in the Minors, returned to the big leagues for the start, he was looking to improve his glove positioning out of the stretch. The Nationals felt he might have been tipping pitches against the Orioles on Aug. 23, when he went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits.

Full Game Coverage

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Max Scherzer had originally been scheduled to face the Mets on Sunday night at Citi Field, but the Nationals decided to give him an extra day of rest and let right-hander Reynaldo Lopez start instead, but Lopez couldn't get past the fourth inning and the Mets defeated the Nationals, 5-1.

When Lopez, who had been working in the Minors, returned to the big leagues for the start, he was looking to improve his glove positioning out of the stretch. The Nationals felt he might have been tipping pitches against the Orioles on Aug. 23, when he went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits.

Full Game Coverage

Lopez doesn't think he tipped his pitches against the Mets, but they were able to get to him, especially in the third inning.

With two outs, Yoenis Cespedes was behind, 0-2, when he singled to right field. The next batter, Curtis Granderson, hit a 1-1 pitch into the right-field stands to give New York a 3-1 lead.

"There were certain situations where I wasn't locating my fastball very well," Lopez said. "Some hitters, I felt I was locating very well and hitting my corners with it. In other situations I didn't locate it well, and that's part of the game."

Video: WSH@NYM: Baker talks about Lopez, Harper's at-bats

"[Lopez has] come a long way in a short period of time," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's more or less starting, which a couple guys are, because we don't have [Stephen Strasburg] and we don't have [Joe Ross], and he wouldn't be in that situation, but we are in that situation. So we've got to ride it out and try to get the most out of them. We went as far as we could with [Lopez] in that situation and said, 'OK. Lets go to the bullpen.'"

After six starts for Washington, Lopez has learned a valuable lesson when it comes to dealing with Major League hitters.

"The hitters are very intelligent," he said. "It's not about power. I have to pitch intelligently. I just have to be smart, and that's the game up here. The hitters are a lot smarter."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Washington Nationals, Reynaldo Lopez