NEW YORK — Daniel Murphy singled home the winning run in the ninth inning and the undefeated New York Mets took advantage of a throwing error by reliever Henry Rodriguez to beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Monday night.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit his first major league homer for the Mets, who are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. Coming off a surprising three-game sweep of Atlanta to start the season, New York rallied from a three-run deficit before a crowd of 23,970.
Several fans left Citi Field chanting "Undefeated! Undefeated!"
The Mets received another excellent effort from a retooled bullpen that ranked 28th in the majors last season with a 4.33 ERA. Miguel Batista got out of trouble in the sixth, Ramon Ramirez escaped a seventh-inning jam with a double-play ball and Jon Rauch (1-0) worked two hitless innings for his first win with New York.
Pinch-hitter Mike Baxter drew a leadoff walk from Rodriguez (0-1) in the ninth and Ruben Tejada put down a sacrifice bunt. Rodriguez looked at second, then threw low to first and the ball got by second baseman Danny Espinosa.
New third base coach Tim Teufel initially waved Baxter all the way around, but he threw up a late stop sign and Baxter slipped to the turf as he tried to stop halfway down the line. Somehow he got back to his feet and scrambled back to third, barely beating Espinosa's throw across the diamond.
Espinosa was shaken up after getting bumped by Tejada as he ran through the bag, but the Washington second baseman stayed in the game.
With first base open and David Wright on deck, the Nationals went after Murphy. He fisted a soft, looping single to right that dropped in front of Jayson Werth as Baxter came in to score.
New York was 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position before Murphy came through. The Mets mobbed him near first base and a teammate pelted him in the face with a cream pie as he was interviewed on the field.
Adam LaRoche extended his fast start with a pair of RBI singles for the Nationals and Tom Gorzelanny tossed 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief in his season debut. Washington fell to 2-2 in its first full season under Davey Johnson, who managed the Mets to their most recent World Series championship in 1986.
Edwin Jackson squandered an early three-run lead in his Nationals debut and was pulled for a pinch-hitter after five innings. The right-hander signed an $11 million, one-year contract after helping St. Louis win the World Series last season.
Looking for a bounce-back season, Mets starter Mike Pelfrey gave up 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings in his first outing of the year. But he struck out eight, matching a career high.
Eight of New York's nine starters were homegrown. The team said it was the first time that's happened since April 19, 1990, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
One of those farm-system products was Nieuwenhuis, called up after newly acquired center fielder Andres Torres re-injured his calf on opening day. The 24-year-old Nieuwenhuis had two hits in his big league debut Saturday and hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning Monday to tie it at 3.
His drive to right, estimated at 385 feet, cleared the new fence at Citi Field and clanked off the old one, making it the second home run in four games (both hit by the Mets) that would have stayed in the ballpark under the previous configuration.
Trailing 3-0 and booed as he stepped to the plate, the 6-foot-7 Pelfrey sparked New York's offense in the third. He ripped his fifth career double into the left-field corner and scrambled to third on Tejada's long flyout. Wright's two-out single made it 3-1.
Pelfrey allowed three straight hits in the first, and LaRoche's single put Washington ahead.
Ian Desmond singled to start the third and scored when Ryan Zimmerman doubled over Lucas Duda's head in right. LaRoche followed with an RBI single and was thrown out trying for second, though it appeared he beat the play by a comfortable margin.
That might have saved Pelfrey a run because Werth then tripled to right-center for his first hit in 12 at-bats this season.
NOTES: Nationals closer Drew Storen, on the 15-day disabled list, felt tenderness in his elbow after throwing a simulated game Sunday in Florida and will be examined by Dr. James Andrews. "Hopefully it's nothing serious, but it doesn't sound good to me," manager Davey Johnson said. ... Washington LF-1B Michael Morse (back) isn't expected to come off the DL until the Nationals get home on Thursday. He is rehabbing in the minors and Johnson said he saw no reason to rush Morse back for this series. ... New York 1B Ike Davis is 0 for 15 this season after homering in each of his last three spring training games. Davis might be rested Tuesday night against LHP Ross Detwiler, who beat the Mets for his first major league win in September 2009. Detwiler will face RHP Dillon Gee, who is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in five starts against Washington. ... The Mets offered more $2.50 tickets for Tuesday night's game after Wednesday's allotment sold out. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch against Johan Santana in the series finale Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of the Mets' debut.