Nationals-Mets Preview

The Washington Nationals have already matched their win total
from last year, and a recent surge has them closing in on third
place in the NL East.

That won’t satisfy manager Davey Johnson.

The Nationals go for their first four-game winning streak in six
weeks when they face the sputtering New York Mets at Citi Field on
Wednesday night.

Washington (69-77) has won three in a row, including the first
two of this four-game set against the Mets (71-77) after winning
3-2 on Tuesday to equal their victory total from 2010. The club
hasn’t won four straight since July 30-Aug. 2, which started with a
pair of victories over New York.

Beating the Mets again Wednesday would move the Nationals into a
tie with them for third in the East. Washington has finished last
three years in a row, and hasn’t finished as high as third since
2002, when the franchise was the Montreal Expos and wound up in
second.

“If you can’t finish first or be the wild card, I’m not losing
any sleep about trying to finish third,” Johnson said. “There’s a
lot more that has to go on here.”

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .323 with two homers and
six RBIs in his last seven games. He’s 7 for 18 in four games in
Flushing this season, but hasn’t managed a hit in his last 11
at-bats versus probable Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, striking out
five times in that span.

Rookie catcher Wilson Ramos went 0 for 4 on Tuesday, but is
still batting .500 with two homers and four doubles in 36 at-bats
against the Mets this season.

The Mets have lost four in a row and six of seven since pulling
within a game of .500, and are now closing in on their third
consecutive losing season.

Pelfrey (7-11, 4.66) is 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in six home starts
since beating the Los Angeles Angels on June 18. He was in line to
end that winless drought Friday, but Manny Acosta blew the save
opportunity in the ninth before Justin Turner hit a walkoff double
for a 5-4 win over Chicago. Pelfrey labored through 6 2-3 innings,
allowing three runs while throwing 111 pitches.

“I want to throw 111 (pitches) and be walking off the field in
the ninth inning, instead of the seventh,” he told the Mets’
official website.

Pelfrey also has control issues in his previous start Sept. 4 at
Washington, throwing 106 pitches in 4 2-3 innings and giving up
three runs, five hits and five walks, though the Mets went on to
win the game.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in his last four starts
versus the Nationals.

Washington will give 23-year-old rookie Brad Peacock (0-0, 6.75)
his first career start, pushing Tommy Milone and John Lannan each
back a day.

“I’m excited,” Peacock told the team’s official website.

The right-hander made his major league debut in relief Sept. 6,
hours after being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. He allowed one
run and four hits in 1 1-3 innings while being charged with a blown
save in a 7-3 defeat to Los Angeles.

Peacock was 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 146 2-3
innings over 25 games – 23 starts – in the minors this year.