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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Preview: Game 97 - Nationals at Mets - Can Dickey Break the Mets out of the Funk?

Washington Nationals (56-39) at New York Mets (47-49) 7:10 PM ET
SeasonRd/HmLast StartLast 3 App
G. Gonzalez (L) 19 12-5 3.325.27-23.477/19NYML3.1660-210.16.97
R. Dickey (R) 19 13-1 2.846.06-02.587/19@WSHW7.11031-013.16.75

A brilliant pitching matchup is on tap for Citi Field tonight as Gio Gonzalez and the National League East-leading Washington Nationals face off with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and the struggling New York Mets in the middle contest of a three-game set.

Rookie star Bryce Harper drove in the go-ahead run as part of a six-run 10th inning on Monday to lead Washington in an 8-2 win over New York in the opener of a the series.

Harper also had a solo home run while the red-hot Ryan Zimmerman, the reigning NL Player of the Week, added a three-run double in the 10th. Michael Morse followed with a two-run homer to help the Nationals win a third consecutive game and extend their lead in the East to 4 1/2 games over Atlanta.

"I just wanted to make sure I didn't hit into a double play there," said Harper when talking about his game-winner. "Got a good pitch to swing at and I was just trying to get it into the outfield."

Tom Gorzelanny (3-2) got the win for getting the final two outs of the ninth inning and working a scoreless 10th.

David Wright and Ike Davis hit solo home runs for the Mets, who have lost four straight and 10 of 11.

New York now sits third in the East, 9 1/2 games behind the Nationals, who own a 7-3 mark against the Mets in the season series.

The news hasn't been all good for Washington, however. All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond, who leads the Nats with 17 home runs, had attempted to play through a painful oblique injury but was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday after an MRI showed a tear on his left side.

"He's been our MVP all year," veteran utility man Mark DeRosa told the Nationals' website. "Big hit after big hit. He's basically been the captain of our infield for all of the first half of the season. So to lose him is tough."

New York's lone victory since the All-Star break came when Dickey outdueled Gonzalez last week en route to taking his 11th consecutive decision. The All-Star has cooled a bit recently, however, and allowed 10 hits while surrendering three earned runs over 7 1/3 innings against Washington during his last start.

Gonzalez has also slowed after compiling a sterling 7-1 record with a 2.04 ERA over his first 10 starts. Since then the lefty has been a far more pedestrian 5-4 with a 4.93 ERA over his last nine trips to the hill, including giving up a season-high six runs over 3 1/3 innings in last week's matchup with Dickey.

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