NEW YORK -- Right-hander Tim Redding continues to be a solid pitcher for the Nationals. He recorded his fourth consecutive quality start, but Washington lost the first game of a day-night doubleheader, 3-1, in front of 51,947 fans at Shea Stadium on Saturday.

Redding was dominating, lasting six innings and giving up one run on five hits. He stuck out a season-high eight batters and walked four others. It helped that Redding was successful throwing his breaking pitches for strikes.

"Early in the game, I was able to throw the curveball and the slider for strikes -- get ahead of guys and keep them off the fastball," Redding said. "Later in the game, I kind of lost a feel for the slider, but the curveball was still there. More times than not, I would use the curveball as my bread-and-butter pitch."

The only time Redding was in serious trouble was in the fourth inning. He walked Carlos Delgado and Ramon Castro followed with a single to center field. After Marlon Anderson flew out to left fielder Ryan Church for the second out of the inning, Lastings Milledge doubled off the wall to score Delgado and give the Mets a 1-0 lead.

"Unfortunately, I made one bad pitch -- a curveball to Milledge," Redding said. "Other than that, I was happy with the way things turned out, other than not getting a win [for the team]."

Manager Manny Acta raved about Redding's performance after the game.

"He threw strike one the whole day and had some good breaking balls the whole day," Acta said. "He lost his command a little bit in the fourth inning. He just gave us a great outing."

Redding, however, couldn't get the run support to win the game. That's because the Nationals faced a different Orlando Hernandez than the one that they saw on April 14 at Shea Stadium. In that game, he gave up six runs in five innings.

According to Church, Hernandez threw a lot of fastballs and his breaking pitches were up in the strike zone in that start. On Saturday, Hernandez gave Washington a different look. He threw mostly breaking pitches from different arm angles and, for the most part, Washington was no match for the right-hander.

Only Felipe Lopez was able to figure out Hernandez, hitting a solo home run over the right-field wall in the sixth inning to tie the score at 1. Hernandez lasted seven innings and struck out eight batters.

"He didn't make those mistakes [like he did on April 14]," Church said. "There weren't too many fastballs. He was throwing cutters, sliders and that curveball. It dropped down, and he was throwing it from all angles. He stayed down in the zone and just pounded it. He mixed pitches and kept you off balance.

"There wasn't anything thing you could just sit and wait for. He would surprise you and throw something else. I was sitting there scratching my head. It wasn't the same El Duque we saw the last time. "

The Nationals' bullpen was rested for Saturday's doubleheader because left-hander Mike Bacsik pitched seven strong innings the previous night.

But it didn't do much good for the first game. In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the score tied at 1, the Mets took the lead against right-hander Saul Rivera. With one out and a runner on second, Ruben Gotay singled to right field to drive in Jose Reyes.

After David Wright walked to put runners on first and second, Carlos Delgado singled to right field to score Gotay.

"I got in trouble and they got me," Rivera said. "My sinkers were high. I wasn't finishing my pitches."

Like the rest of the bullpen, one can't ask Rivera to be successful every night. Prior to Saturday, Rivera pitched 6 1/3 innings without giving up a run. He also is among the National League leaders in appearances with 54.

Asked if he was well-rested, Rivera said, "I'm OK. I have no problems. As long as I stay healthy, I know I will keep pitching."