Nats try to move closer to top mark vs. Mets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals are closing in on the league's top mark and go for another series win Wednesday in the continuation of a three-game set versus the New York Mets.

The Nationals have won four straight series and own the NL's best record at 92-64, with the Los Angeles Dodgers lurking at 90-68. The Nationals posted their fifth straight win and 13th in 16 tries with Tuesday's 4-2 triumph.

Adam LaRoche highlighted a decisive four-run fifth inning with a three-run homer after Michael Taylor pulled Washington even at 1-1 courtesy of an RBI double that scored Kevin Frandsen.

"It feels good to contribute," said Taylor. "Just happy to have the opportunity to play."

Tanner Roark picked up the win and allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Roark is now 15-10 on the season and helped the NL East-champion Nats move closer to home-field advantage in the postseason up until the World Series. The American League has home-field advantage in the Fall Classic because of their All-Star Game victory in July.

"You've got to keep doing your job," said Roark. "You go out there each day, work hard each day in between starts and go out there whenever your name is called. You can't really think about it."

Washington center fielder Denard Span left the game with an injury after making a diving catch in the third inning. He recorded a hit and is four hits shy of passing Cristian Guzman (183 in 2008) for the most hits in a single season in Nationals history. He is tied with Guzman for the most multi-hit games in a season (57). Guzman also achieved the feat on 2008.

The Nationals will close the regular season with four straight home games versus the Miami Marlins and are 72-9 when scoring four or more runs. They are 20-55 when limited to three runs or fewer.

Gio Gonzalez is making a case for a rotation spot this postseason and will toe the rubber versus the Mets Wednesday. Gonzalez has a 9-10 record with a 3.74 earned run average and has won three of his past four trips to the hill, including Thursday's 6-2 win at Miami in which the lefty limited the hosts to a pair of runs in seven innings.

Gonzalez, who is 4-3 in 12 home starts, will make his 13th career start against the rival Mets and has a 6-4 mark to go along with a 3.44 ERA over the first 12 outings. Gonzalez has struggled to a 1-3 mark and a 5.40 ERA in four starts against New York this season.

The Mets had won three in a row and four of five games prior to their trip to the nation's capital. Bartolo Colon was dealt the loss last night and permitted all four runs and five hits in six innings. The bomb by LaRoche spoiled a decent start to Colon's outing.

"I really thought he was going to pitch well tonight. He certainly did until that point," said Mets manager Terry Collins, alluding to LaRoche's home run.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis opened the scoring with an RBI ground-rule double in the fifth and Wilmer Flores scored on a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Flores has crossed the plate 12 times this month and went 2-for-4 with two runs scored for the Mets, who posted 10 runs in Sunday's win at Atlanta and are still a respectable 20-16 on the road against NL East foes.

The Mets announced they will shut down rookie hurler Jacob deGrom for the rest of the season. DeGrom impressed with a 9-6 mark, 144 K's and a 2.63 ERA in 22 starts. The NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate went 9-2 since June 21.

"It was a big year for me, my first year in the big leagues," deGrom said on the club's website. "I'll take a lot (out of it). Knowing I can pitch here is definitely going to help me out heading into next year."

DeGrom took over the rotation spot for an injured Dillon Gee, who gets the start for the Mets Wednesday. Gee is 7-8 with a 3.88 earned run average and has lost two of his last three starts, including last Wednesday's 4-3 setback to Miami. He allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Gee has allowed three or more runs five times in the last seven tries. He has pitched well in 15 career starts against the Nationals, going 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA, but is only 2-4 in eight road starts. However, Gee is 4-1 with a 3.57 ERA in six career starts at Nationals Park.

Washington has dominated the Mets this season to the tune of 14-3.