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NYM@WSH: Desmond blasts a solo homer to left-center

WASHINGTON -- Proud new father Ian Desmond led the Nationals to a 4-3 victory over the Mets on Thursday evening, preventing a series sweep by a National League East rival.

Washington improved to 11-13 for the season, stopping a three-game skid just before the team gets set to face the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

Desmond returned from Major League Baseball's paternity list for the series finale determined to spark the Washington offense after watching the past few losses from his Florida home.

Desmond launched a one-out triple off the wall in front of the visitor's bullpen and scored on a single by Jerry Hairston Jr. during a big fourth inning for the Nationals. In the fifth, Desmond's solo home run to the same spot put Washington up by two runs. It was his third long ball of the season.

"We've been struggling," Desmond said. "We needed some offense, and I was able to bring that tonight."

Desmond would not admit to being motivated by his personal news -- insisting that it was just another game -- but manager Jim Riggleman and teammates believed it was important for Desmond to have a big night.

"As always, I'm really proud of him," Riggleman said. "He's a great competitor going through some tough times here in April. He's had some big games for us, too, and tonight was a real good ballgame. A couple days off probably helped a bit. Fatherhood exceeds anything that we do out here, anyway. With everything else that's going on in his life right now, this just tops it off here tonight."

Desmond's efforts were backed by a solid outing from starter Livan Hernandez (3-2). Returning to form after a tough outing last weekend, Hernandez gave up three runs over eight innings. He quickly and effortlessly retired the first six batters of the game, ultimately allowing seven hits while striking out five.

"You don't worry too much about Livo," Riggleman said. "He is such a consistent competitor and a good thinker out there. You never really know what he's going to throw in any situation."

"[Hernandez] just looks like he's out there having fun," Harris said. "He goes in-and-out, up-and-down with every pitch. He wasn't overpowering, but he was very consistent moving the ball around to keep us off balance."

Hernandez helped his own cause with a single in the third, and he scored when Jayson Werth's two-out line drive to right field sailed just over Carlos Beltran's head and bounced over the bullpen wall for a ground-rule double. In the fourth inning, Hernandez's sacrifice bunt scored Hairston on a close play at home plate.

Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season. He struck out former teammate Willie Harris on a 3-2 slider to end the game, impressing both his manager and his veteran catcher, Pudge Rodriguez.

"I want to do well, but really in the end, I don't want to waste [Desmond and Hernandez's] efforts," Rodriguez said. "Those are huge performances to pick up the two tough games we started with. When [Hernandez] goes out there and pitches well and hits well and has an all-around good effort, you don't want to waste that."

With the victory, the Nationals are now 11-5 when scoring three or more runs this season. Washington snapped the Mets' Major League-best six-game winning streak.

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