Nationals-Mets Preview

The Washington Nationals have experienced some dreary nights

recently, and not simply because of poor weather conditions. After

being shut out for the second time in four games, they’ll look to

get their struggling offense going against the surging New York

Mets.

The teams finish a two-game set Thursday night at Citi Field

after a soggy contest in the first meeting.

The Nationals and Mets both had games rained out Tuesday before

fighting a steady mist Wednesday, when New York won 3-0.

Washington (20-22) entered the game last in the NL in batting

average, on-base percentage and hits, and the trend continued with

its sixth shutout loss.

”We’ve just got to click as a team. We’re just waiting for that

one big hit,” shortstop Ian Desmond said.

Manager Jim Riggleman said he’s not making any major changes to

the lineup and hopes his squad’s fortunes take a turn in the near

future.

”There’s nothing to do except work your way out of it,” he

said.

With the Nationals struggling offensively, they’ll turn to

former Met Livan Hernandez (3-5, 3.92 ERA) on the mound. Hernandez

beat New York 4-3 on April 28, allowing three runs in eight

innings.

The Mets released Hernandez in August of 2009, and he’s gone 2-1

with a 1.96 ERA in six starts against them since.

“We just have to not swing at too many bad pitches, because he’s

going to be around the plate, so we just need to look for one pitch

and try to put it in play,” Jose Reyes, who has two career home

runs against Hernandez, told the Mets’ official website.

However, the veteran Hernandez has lost his three starts since

that April victory, including a tough-luck, 1-0 defeat against

Florida on Saturday when he went seven innings and allowed six

hits.

The Mets (20-22) played Wednesday’s win without starters David

Wright, Ike Davis and Angel Pagan, but it didn’t stop them from

winning for the fifth time in seven games.

Second baseman Justin Turner continued his hot streak with a

two-run double. He went 2 for 4 and is hitting .409 (9 for 22) with

a home run and nine RBIs over his last five games.

”It’s all about taking advantage of opportunities,” he said.

”It’s a little easier to take your at-bats and get comfortable

when you see your name in the lineup.”

Dillon Gee (2-0, 4.44 ERA) will look to bounce back from a rough

outing Friday in New York’s 6-4 loss to Houston, allowing four runs

in five innings while also walking four, hitting a batter and

committing a balk.

“I just have to get back to attacking the strike zone with all

four of my pitches and cutting down on the free passes,” Gee

said.

Gee won his first two starts before pitching out of the bullpen

in his next three appearances. He hasn’t factored into the decision

in two starts since returning to the rotation.

Gee beat the Nationals in his major-league debut Sept. 7,

allowing one run and two hits through seven innings.