Nats concerned about Johnson, not loss
Johnson collides with Kearns trying to catch a popup in right
NEW YORK -- The Nationals actually suffered two losses on Saturday afternoon at Shea Stadium, though the outcome of the game was far less important to Washington players.
Nick Johnson suffered a fractured right femur in the eighth inning of the Nationals' 12-6 loss to the Mets at Shea Stadium, colliding with right fielder Austin Kearns in pursuit of a pop fly.
Several players described hearing a loud "crack" at the moment of impact, and after listening to Johnson scream in pain and writhe on the outfield turf, several Nationals admitted the game soon became an afterthought.
"I think you could tell," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Everyone -- the fans, the players in the game -- everyone just kind of wanted to quit and not play that last inning."
The Nationals scored one run in the ninth inning to cut the Mets' lead to six runs, but they did so with heavy hearts, thinking of Johnson. The first baseman was taken to a local hospital for examination.
A television camera panned the dugout shortly after the play during the lengthy injury delay, revealing faces blanketed with fear and concern for their fallen teammate.
"It wouldn't matter who it is, but Nick is a great guy and one of the guys who's been here the longest," said center fielder Nick Logan. "To see a guy go down like that, it's just hard."
The Nationals held a 4-0 lead at one point in the contest, but after rookie left-hander Mike O'Connor had handled the Mets through four scoreless innings, New York cracked through with a monster fifth inning.
O'Connor said he began to struggle to keep his pitches low in that inning, and the results showed. The Mets scored six runs and sent 11 batters to the plate, capped by David Wright's three-run homer.
O'Connor, who walked one and struck out five, also allowed run-scoring hits to Lastings Milledge, Jose Reyes and Endy Chavez before being relieved by Ryan Wagner.
"I think I threw well for the first few innings," O'Connor said. "It happened real quick. I think I did a good job of locating the ball early. ... It came together all at once [for the Mets] there, and they strung it together."
The start was a stark contrast to O'Connor's previous outing against the Mets, though, it started similarly. O'Connor's only road victory of 2006 came on May 2 at Shea Stadium, when he limited New York to a run and two hits over seven innings.
"It's definitely a tough lineup," O'Connor said. "They put up some quicker guys today. It's a tough lineup, up and down, for sure."
In the top half of the fifth, Washington had added three runs against Mets starter John Maine, taking a four-run lead at the time.
Brian Schneider worked a bases-loaded free pass in the fourth and Austin Kearns garnered the same in the fifth, before Jose Vidro connected with a two-run single to give the Nats a 4-0 lead.
Alfonso Soriano brought the Nationals within one run by cracking his 46th home run in the seventh, a solo shot off Mets reliever Guillermo Mota.
New York countered with three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. Against reliever Felix Rodriguez in the seventh, Chris Woodward stroked a run-scoring hit and Reyes added a two-run double.
Jason Bergmann allowed a Paul Lo Duca home run and -- following the Johnson injury -- RBI doubles to Julio Franco and Milledge.
By that point, it didn't seem to matter much.
"I'm just thinking about Nick's welfare and well being," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "Hopefully, it wasn't that bad. Sometimes things look worse than they are. I do hope it's not as bad as it looks."
Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.