Nats send Haren to hill to face Mets

With the NL East race all but over, the Washington Nationals still have a chance at getting into the postseason, but will need solid starting pitching the remainder of the season to have a chance at moving into the wild card position.

The Nationals are 14 games behind Atlanta in the division, but enter Saturday 6 1/2 contests behind Cincinnati for the second wild card spot.

Dan Haren is one of those pitchers who has been on a hot streak for the Nationals, and tonight the veteran right-hander gets a shot at winning his fifth straight decision when he pitches against the New York Mets in the middle test of a three-game series.

Haren is 4-0 over his last six starts and hasn't lost since July 22 against Pittsburgh. He gave up eight hits and four runs over seven innings in a no- decision at Kansas City on Sunday. In six August starts, Haren has allowed only eight runs, five of which are a direct result of home runs.

Haren is 2-2 with a 4.89 ERA in nine games (8 starts) against the Mets.

Zack Wheeler, who is coming off a Monday loss versus the Phillies, counters for the Mets. The righty is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in seven road starts to begin his career.

Wheeler's only start against the Nationals resulted in a loss. On June 30 he allowed six hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 13-2 final.

Last night, Dillon Gee tossed 7 2/3 strong innings to help the Mets to a 3-2 win.

Ike Davis cranked his ninth home run for New York while Daniel Murphy scored twice and contributed two hits in the victory, including his third double in his last two games.

"We don't have a lot of power on this club, therefore base running becomes an very integral part of us trying to score runs," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think the aggressiveness has helped us win some games."

Gee (10-9) was tagged for two runs on six hits while striking out three. He has now gone at least six innings in 12 straight outings. He moved to 7-2 lifetime against the Nationals.

"Over his career he's done really well against us," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "We've watched video, we've done things. We just can't figure him out."

Jordan Zimmermann (15-8) failed to become the National League's first 16-game winner after getting reached for all three runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Denard Span has a 13-game hitting streak for the Nationals.

Washington has a 7-6 edge in the season series.