Strasburg tries to put road woes behind him vs. Mets

( - The Washington Nationals shoot for a three-game sweep of the New York Mets Thursday at Citi Field and will have to do so with Stephen Strasburg on the mound.

Normally that's a good thing, but Strasburg is a putrid 1-8 with a 5.25 earned run average in 12 road starts this season. Strasburg was shelled in a 7-6 loss at Atlanta last Friday and gave up all seven runs and seven hits, including four home runs in five innings.

"I can't put a finger on that," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said of the success his team has had against Strasburg "He's got great stuff. The mistakes he makes, for some reason, we're able to hit them. That's what he did tonight. He left some pitches out over (the plate), and we were able to jump on him early."

Strasburg fell to 8-10 with a 3.68 earned run average and is 1-4 in his past five starts. The right-hander, who threw seven shutout innings and struck out 10 batters in a 4-0 win over Philadelphia Aug. 3, is 2-1 to go along with a 2.70 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.

The Nationals hope Strasburg can maintain their comfortable lead atop the National League East standings after a 3-2 victory last night. Bryce Harper and Kevin Frandsen both lifted sacrifice fly balls in the seventh inning and Washington tacked on another run in the eighth thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera's solo home run.

Jordan Zimmermann got the win in the start for the Nats and yielded one unearned run in 6 1/3 innings. Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard combined to pitch 1 2/3 shutout innings of relief. Closer Rafael Soriano gave up Travis d'Arnaud's leadoff home run in the ninth inning, but managed to pick up his 27th save.

"We have the best bullpen in the game," said Zimmermann. "It was good, a good win for the team."

The Washington bullpen is fourth in the majors with a 2.83 ERA.

Washington, which is five games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East and has won seven of the last 11 games, will return home following this series to begin a 10-game stretch versus Pittsburgh, Arizona and San Francisco.

New York has lost three of four games and a ninth-inning rally fell short in Wednesday's loss. Bartolo Colon got the start and pitched very well in the loss, allowing two runs -- one earned -- and six hits with eight K's.

Jeurys Familia allowed Cabrera's home run in the eighth inning.

David Wright, Matt den Dekker and d'Arnaud had two hits apiece for the Mets, losers in four straight at Citi Field.

"In the ninth inning we certainly had a lot of opportunities," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "It was a tough one because they gave us chances to beat them tonight."

Washington has won nine of 11 meetings from New York this season, including all five in Queens. The Mets will host the Chicago Cubs next for four games at Citi Field.

Taking the mound for the Mets Thursday will be Dillon Gee. Gee has a 4-4 record to go along with a 3.54 earned run average and is winless (0-3) in his past five trips to the mound. In Saturday's 2-1 win at Philadelphia, Gee did not figure into the decision and held the Phillies to a run in seven innings.

Gee, a right-hander, is 2-2 in eight home starts and 7-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 13 career starts against the Nationals.