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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Preview: 2011 Regular Season Game 25 - Mets at Nationals

New York Mets (11-13) at Washington Nationals (10-13), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Chris Capuano (2-1, 5.95) Washington - Livan Hernandez (2-2, 3.48)

A 2-12 stretch earlier this month left the New York Mets searching for answers. So far the club has been looking in all the right places and will take aim at its seventh straight win tonight in the finale of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals in D.C.

The Mets recorded their sixth straight win with Wednesday's 6-3 triumph at Nationals Park, where they posted four runs in the top of the ninth inning to secure the lead for good and extend their winning run. Daniel Murphy roped a two-run double in the top of the ninth and also finished with a home run and three RBI for New York, which is on its longest winning streak since prevailing eight consecutive times from June 10-18 last season.

"You got to give Murphy credit tonight," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "He hurt us twice tonight. He's a tough out to deal with."

Jason Bay and Ike Davis had two hits apiece, while Mets starter R.A. Dickey did not record a decision with 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball. He allowed eight hits, walked one and struck out three batters. Pedro Beato claimed the victory by working the eighth inning and Francisco Rodriguez logged his sixth save with a scoreless bottom of the ninth inning.

After tonight's matchup in the nation's capital, the Mets will make a stop at rival Philadelphia for three games over the weekend.

Chris Capuano looks to keep the Mets in the win column when he makes his sixth appearance -- fourth start -- of the season. He is coming off a win over Houston last Thursday and tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a 9-1 handling of the Astros. Capuano is 2-1 with a 5.95 ERA in five games (3 starts) and will face Washington for the second time in 2011.

Capuano defeated Washington at home back on April 9 even though he surrendered four runs over six innings with eight strikeouts in the 8-4 triumph. The left- hander is 2-2 in five career starts against the Nationals.

Washington hopes to avoid the sweep Thursday and has dropped three straight and six of its last seven games.

In last night's tough loss to the NL East-rival Mets, Rick Ankiel, Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse all drove in runs. Jayson Werth and Roger Bernadina had two hits apiece for the Nationals, who got 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball out of Tom Gorzelanny in the no-decision.

Nationals reliever Sean Burnett was dealt the loss for giving up all four runs in the top of the ninth inning.

"Unfortunately, the luck didn't go my way tonight," Burnett quipped on the team's official site. "[I] just couldn't get it under control. I just didn't get the breaks tonight. It stinks."

The Nats, who are set to host San Francisco for four games, hope to get a break with veteran Livan Hernandez set to toe the rubber Thursday. Hernandez had a personal two-game winning streak stopped in his previous outing last Saturday in a 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh, as he allowed seven runs -- four earned -- and nine hits in six innings.

Hernandez was coming off back-to-back one-run efforts and fell to 2-2 with a 3.48 earned run average in five starts. The right-hander has faced the Mets plenty of times in his career as evidenced by his 12-14 record and 4.21 ERA in 37 lifetime starts.

Washington and New York split 18 matchups last season.
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