Five shutout innings from Benson

Kris Benson was strong again, shutting out the Washington Nationals over five innings in his third start of the spring.

Benson, who has been watching Pedro Martinez closely all spring long to pick up pointers, pitched a little like Pedro Friday by striking out four and walking none in a three-hit performance.

Jose Reyes had an RBI single off of Nationals starter Esteban Loaiza in the fifth inning and Doug Mientkiewicz added a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Washington reached Braden Looper for two runs in the ninth, with the teams calling it quits in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings.

Mets Notes

  • The Mets returned Francisco Campos to his Mexican League club, eliminating him from any consideration for the fifth starter's job. Campos, who was with the Mets on a conditional loan that he would be returned if he did not make the team, was bombed for three home runs by the Cleveland Indians this week.

  • Newsday reported that the Mets are also discussing three pitchers with Washington – John Patterson, Zach Day and Jon Rauch - which would appear to be a backup plan if the Kaz Ishii deal falls apart.

  • Randy Niemann will take over as the pitching coach for Class-A St. Lucie this season, succeeding the late Rick Mahler, who passed away earlier this month.

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