NEW YORK -- The Nationals' offense continues to be a problem, and for the second straight day, they were blanked by the Mets -- this time by the score of 1-0 on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.
The last time Washington scored was in the seventh inning of Monday's game against the Pirates at Nationals Park. That's 20 shutout innings.
On Thursday, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee was throwing a no-hitter until the sixth inning, when his counterpart, Livan Hernandez, singled up the middle with two outs in the frame for the Washington's first hit.
"Both starting pitchers for the Mets threw well against us, but when pitchers throw well against us, you still have to beat them," manager Jim Riggleman said.
The Nationals would collect two more hits before losing their 23rd game of the season to stand alone in fifth place in the National League East.
The Nats had runners in scoring position against Gee for the first time in the eighth inning. Runners were on first and second with one out, but Matt Stairs lined out to Carlos Beltran in right field. Left-hander Tim Byrdak then replaced Gee and induced Michael Morse to ground out to end the inning.
In the ninth, Washington founded itself in controversy. After Laynce Nix doubled off Francisco Rodriguez with one out, Jayson Werth hit a smash to third baseman Justin Turner, who made a backhanded play and threw the ball to first baseman Daniel Murphy. Werth clearly beat the throw and Murphy's foot was not on the bag. However, first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi called Werth out.
Werth was upset and yelled at Cuzzi before Riggleman went on the field to argue for several minutes. The skipper asked home-plate umpire Mike Gonzalez for help, but Gonzalez walked away from Riggleman. Cuzzi and Gonzalez were not available for comment. After play resumed, Adam LaRoche came to the plate and grounded out to end the game.
"Whether Murphy is on the base or not, I thought Werth was going to be safe, and then I thought Murphy came off the base," Riggleman said.
But the Nationals weren't through arguing with the umpires over the blown call. According to a baseball source, it escalated outside the clubhouse, as catcher Ivan Rodriguez argued with the umpires. Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo had to pull Rodriguez away from the umpires. The source also said Rizzo and Riggleman were arguing with the umpires.
Rodriguez and Riggleman declined to comment about what went on outside the clubhouse, and Rizzo wasn't available for comment.
While Werth talked to the media, he declined to say anything negative about the umpires.
"It's one of those things. That's baseball," Werth said about the play. "I'm not commenting on umpires. ... I don't have too many thoughts on much right now."
Although he disagreed with the call, Riggleman focused more on the offense.
"That's a big call, but we can't let the game come down to that," Riggleman said. "We have to do more. We can't have [three] hits and get shut out two days in a row. We are better than that. We are going to have to do better than that."
Asked if changes needed to be made on offense, Riggleman said, "Internally, we don't have somebody that we are looking at to make a change with. Externally, I never look there. That's something you hear more scuttlebutt about toward the Trade Deadline.
"We put this team together. We were confident in this team and it's a facet of the game. It's a big area of the game. ... There are a lot of other areas in the game that we are playing so well. We believe this group is going to hit."
As for Hernandez, he had one of his best games of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing the one run on seven hits. The run scored in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Turner singled to center to drive in Josh Thole.
"I'm not sure what to do," Mets manager Terry Collins said about Hernandez. "I might just bring up guys who have never seen him before so he doesn't play with their minds so bad. He is the consummate pitcher. He knows what he does. He doesn't throw you anything to hit."
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.