Nationals-Mets Preview

Superb pitching is a big reason why the Washington Nationals are so successful against the New York Mets on the road.

Doug Fister’s dominance of the Mets hasn’t been limited to the Big Apple.

Fister goes for a fifth straight win over the Mets and the Nationals look to cap this four-game series with a third victory Sunday.

Washington (11-14) has followed a six-game losing streak by winning four of five, and it may not be too surprising that the success has included a trip to New York.

The Nationals have won 16 of the past 18 games at Citi Field behind a 1.79 ERA while holding the Mets (16-9) to .199 at the plate.

Gio Gonzalez improved to 6-1 with a 1.66 ERA in nine career starts there after striking out nine in seven innings of Saturday’s 1-0 win. He has an explanation for the dominance in Queens.

"It’s New York. It’s a beautiful city. It’s got great food," he said. "The weather’s amazing. The airport’s awesome."

Fister (1-1, 3.28 ERA) has a 1.01 ERA while winning all four of his starts against the Mets, including three passes through LaGuardia Airport.

The right-hander may be welcoming this matchup after going 0-1 while allowing 10 runs in 11 2-3 innings over his last two starts. He gave up five runs and 10 hits while committing two errors on pickoff attempts in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-4 loss at Atlanta on Monday.

Michael Taylor could be headed to the bench with Denard Span expected to be back from an abdomen injury. Taylor, though, had an RBI single Saturday, and has three hits in two games while replacing Span in the lineup.

Span, however, was hot before getting hurt, going 7 for 14 with two homers, four doubles, four RBIs and seven runs in his last three games.

The Mets are averaging 2.4 runs during a 1-4 stretch, a decrease from 4.9 while winning 13 of the previous 15. They had six hits Saturday while wasting a gem from Jonathon Niese, who allowed one run in seven innings.

"Anytime you lose it stinks, but especially when a guy gives you an effort like that and pitches as well as he did. You feel like you let him down a little bit," said Michael Cuddyer, who went 0 for 3.

New York is looking for Dillon Gee (0-1, 4.26) to help it start a turnaround.

The right-hander hasn’t figured in the decisions of his last two starts, but he’s allowed three runs in 14 2-3 innings following a meeting with manager Terry Collins after it appeared his spot in the rotation was in jeopardy.

Collins defended the embattled Gee on Monday after he tossed seven scoreless innings before allowing one run and exiting with two outs in the eighth of a 3-1 win at Miami.

"We can put to rest that Dillon Gee can’t pitch at this level," manager Terry Collins said. "There has been a lot of talk, and I feel terrible for him. He went out there and showed he can do what he has done in the past."

Gee, though, is 1-2 with a 5.83 ERA in his last five starts against the Nationals, with four at home.

He’s struggled with Bryce Harper, who is 7 for 19 (.368) with two homers off him.