New York (6-1) at Washington (2-7)

  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Thu Apr 13, 2006
  • TV: SNY, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

For the Washington Nationals, getting revenge against the New York Mets no longer can be a top concern.

Just beating them is.

The Nationals hope to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to their NL East rivals and fifth straight overall on Thursday in the finale of their series with a team off to its best start in 21 years.

The focus of this three-game set had been the animosity between the clubs, particularly Jose Guillen’s disdain for Pedro Martinez.

Last week’s series at Shea Stadium matching these teams featured seven batters getting hit—six by Mets pitchers—and a bench-clearing brawl nearly happened after Guillen was plunked by Martinez for the fifth time in his career.

Martinez got the best of the rematch on Wednesday, and the Mets continue getting the best of the Nationals

Guillen stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth and the Nationals trailing by one, but Martinez got him to ground into an inning-ending double play and the Mets went on to win 3-1.

“He’s probably bitter still, but I’m just going to continue to pray for him, and hopefully it will get better, his temper will change,” said Martinez, who pitched seven strong innings to get the win. “I still have respect for his bat, he’s a good hitter and I’m just going to continue to do what I have to do.

“And I was glad that, when I’m OK, I don’t need to hit anybody.”

This series has not had any such unfriendly incidents that led Major League Baseball to warn both teams that brushbacks and hit batters would be scrutinized whenever these teams played the rest of the season.

Now the story shifts to the opposite directions in which these teams are headed.

The Nationals (2-7) have scored only two runs in this series and nine during their four-game skid.

“I can’t do desperation things, because those guys will lose confidence in me,” Washington manager Frank Robinson said. “You have to be very careful this early in the season, what you do and how you do it.”

The Mets (6-1), meanwhile, have reeled off five straight wins while notching their best start since opening 8-1 in 1985.

“Doing what we’re doing right now … we should be winning,” Mets pitcher Tom Glavine said.

The 3-4-5 hitters in New York’s lineup—Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and David Wright—have keyed the team’s early success.

Beltran is 7-for-18 (.389) with two homers and eight RBIs during the five-game win streak. Delgado doubled home a run Wednesday, and is batting .357 with two homers and five RBIs. Wright failed to drive in a run Wednesday for the first time in seven games, but had a double and a triple while raising his average to .444.

That trio will be facing Livan Hernandez for the second time this season. Wright homered against him as the Mets beat the Nationals 3-2 on April 3, when Hernandez gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings.

The 11-year veteran was worse in his second start but got a victory, giving up six runs—four earned—and 12 hits over six innings in a 12-8 win at Houston on Saturday.

The right-hander is 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA in 29 career starts against the Mets.

Hernandez will be opposed by Victor Zambrano, who makes his season debut after missing his first scheduled start with a strained left hamstring.

In his first full season with the Mets in 2005, Zambrano won only once in his final six starts as he finished 7-12 with a 4.17 ERA.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be 100 percent,” Zambrano said, “but I’m ready to pitch and I’ll start, and the way I start the game is going to tell me.”

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Starting Pitchers

V. Zambrano NYY vs. L. Hernandez MIL
1-2 Record 13-13
6.75 ERA 4.83
15 K 128
11 BB 78
1.69 WHIP 1.50