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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, July 25th (All times Eastern)

Washington Nationals (57-39) at New York Mets (47-50), 12:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85) New York - Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85)

(Sports Network) - Washington righty Stephen Strasburg tries to bounce back from a rare poor showing when the Nationals go for a sweep in the finale of their three- game set with the New York Mets on Wednedsay at Citi Field.

Strasburg was spotted a nine-run lead on Friday against Atlanta, but struggled with his command and left after allowing four runs and eight hits with three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He didn't get the win, though, as the Braves rallied to win a wild affair in extra innings, 11-10.

"I wasn't striking everybody out and wasn't going 1-2-3, but that usually never happens, anyways," said Strasburg, who was celebrating his 24th birthday Friday. "They're a good team. They were taking a lot of close pitches that they could have swung at but they didn't, so it's really out of my control. I was just trying to pound the strike zone and just missed a little bit tonight."

Amid talk of about shutting him down come September, he's lost three of his last four decisions and is 10-4 on the year with a 2.85 ERA.

Strasburg tossed six scoreless innings to beat the Mets earlier in the year and is 1-0 in two starts against them with a 1.64 ERA.

New York, meanwhile, will rely on righty Jeremy Hefner, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday to replace the injured Johan Santana. Hefner has pitched primarily out of the bullpen for the Mets, but made three starts early on and was 1-2 with a 5.32 in those outings.

His last start came against the Nationals back on June 6 when he lost after allowing four runs (3 earned) and seven hits in six innings.

On Tuesday, R.A. Dickey lost for the first time in over three months, as Adam LaRoche hit a two-run home run to power Washington to a 5-2 win.

Dickey (13-2) came into the game having not lost since April 18 at Atlanta, but he gave up five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over six innings to drop just his second game of the season. He went 11-0 in his 17 games prior to Tuesday.

"There were a lot of things I did right tonight that I've got to be able to take, discard what went wrong and build on what went right," Dickey said. "I'm going to try to do that."

Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with a run scored while Danny Espinosa and Jesus Flores each drove in a run for the Nationals, who have won four straight.

Gio Gonzalez (13-5) snapped a two-start losing streak thanks to a one-run, two-hit outing that also saw him walk two and strike out four over seven innings.

"We're sensing a good vibe," Gonzalez said. "Everyone here is trying to stay positive, swing the bat, defense, catching, bullpen. Everyone is just trying to do their part. Nobody wants to be left behind, especially when the team is taking off like this."

Ronny Cedeno drove in a run while Jordany Valdespin hit his fifth pinch-hit home run of the season for the struggling Mets, who have dropped five straight and 11 of their last 12.

Washington has beaten the Mets in eight of the 11 meetings this season.

07/25 10:25:29 ET