NEW YORK -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo decided to overhaul the team's bench this past offseason to incorporate a more team-oriented attitude.
One of the additions was outfielder Laynce Nix, who signed as a free agent with Washington in February. Recently, the Nationals announced that catcher Ivan Rodriguez will lose his starting job in favor of Wilson Ramos.
And despite those non-starting roles, both Nix and Rodriguez played a huge part in the team's 7-3 victory over the Mets in 11 innings on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field.
With runners on first and second and one out and the game tied at 3 in the 11th, Rodriguez singled to right field off New York reliever Blaine Boyer, scoring pinch-runner Ramos. It was Rodriguez's second hit of the game.
"I just try to stay back on the ball and use my hands," Rodriguez said. "That's me. I have quick hands. I'm very quick to the strike zone. ... I have to stay with the strike zone and make my hands do the rest."
Nix hit a three-run homer to make it a four-run cushion.
"It is certainly a difference-maker," Nix said. "It puts us at ease going into the next inning being the visiting team. It's a little more tight with a one-run lead. It's not as safe."
Nix has been a valuable reserve dating back to the 2009 season when he was with the Reds, and he acknowledges that it's not easy coming off the bench.
"It's certainly a difficult role. It's not an easy transition," Nix said. "It's kind of rare to have a bench that has as many guys who have a experience doing it. We all want to know our role on the team and accept it. It's better for team chemistry."
The Nationals didn't have much chemistry in the early going of Sunday's game, amassing just one hit against Mets starter Chris Young, and that came off the bat of left fielder Mike Morse. It was that same inning in which Washington scored its only run against the right-hander. Adam LaRoche scored on a groundout by Rodriguez.
"Didn't use my curveball at all today," Young said. "Slider was decent. Fastball was pretty good with the life on it with the pop on it. And that's the way I pitch. I did it pretty well today, pitched just above the zone and got them to chase a little bit."
Nationals right-hander Jason Marquis wasn't bad on the mound either, pitching six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out nine batters. He became the first Nationals pitcher to go over the 100-pitch plateau in a game this season.
"That's two [starts] in a row for Marquis. It's encouraging," manager Jim Riggleman said. "He wanted to keep going today. He had some more ammunition there. He could have kept firing. But it's encouraging that he wasn't coming out of there [with a tender arm]."
By pitching arguably his best game in a Nationals uniform, Marquis proved that his right elbow problems are a thing of the past. A year ago, Marquis had bone chips removed from his elbow.
"I feel great. I prepare myself year after year to go nine innings every game. Obviously, that's the goal," Marquis said. "Early last year was an aberration. I had the surgery for a reason. I try to take care of myself. You learn a lot more about yourself as times goes on. I feel good physically with where I'm at."
The Mets were able to take the lead in the first inning by scoring two runs. David Wright and Angel Pagan had RBI singles.
New York added an extra run in the fifth inning, when Ike Davis drove in Willie Harris with a single over the head of shortstop Ian Desmond
With Young out of the game, the Nationals were able to tie the score in the top of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Desmond blooped a single to center field to score Rodriguez.
Rick Ankiel followed and grounded out, but Jerry Hairston Jr. scored on the play. It looked like the Nationals could break it open later in the inning, but with the bases loaded and Taylor Buchholtz on the mound, Morse struck out on three pitches to end the threat.
In the end, it was the bench that came through for the Nationals.
"The great thing about this team is that it has veteran guys on the bench who know their role," Marquis said. "If asked to step in to start a few games, they have veteran presence. They know what they can do or not do on the field.
For Rodriguez and Nix, they did their job Sunday.
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.