The New York Mets look to continue their road dominance of the Washington Nationals on Friday and get some consistency out of Oliver Perez when the NL East rivals open a three-game set at RFK Stadium.
The division-leading Mets (13-7) have won 13 of the last 14 contests at Washington since July 6, 2005, and are 15-4 there since the Nationals franchise relocated from Montreal prior to that season. New York outscored the Nationals 56-18 at RFK last season en route to an 8-1 record.
These two clubs split a rain-shortened two-game series at Shea Stadium two weeks ago.
Perez (2-1, 3.31 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets seeking a second consecutive quality start.
The left-hander gave up two runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-2 win over Atlanta on Saturday, striking out nine without issuing a walk. The performance stood in stark contrast to his previous outing, a loss to Philadelphia on April 11 when he walked seven batters, hit another and allowed three runs in only 2 2-3 innings.
“It’s a nice bounce-back game for him,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He needed to get back in his rhythm, and he did. You’ve got to throw away the stinkers every once in a while. Everyone is entitled to it. But it’s good to see him come back with a strong outing.”
Perez has struggled in two career starts at Washington, going 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in two starts and failing to reach the fifth inning.
The Mets are trying to rebound from their most lopsided loss of the season, an 11-5 defeat to Colorado on Wednesday which prevented a three-game sweep of the Rockies. New York has only dropped consecutive games once this season, from April 7-8.
“We’re a good team, but we can’t win them all,” Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado told the team’s official Web site. “We’ll take two out of three any time we can.”
The Nationals (7-15) are hoping to build on a 4-2 win at Philadelphia on Thursday which halted a four-game losing streak. They’ll send rookie Matt Chico (1-2, 6.38) to the mound as he looks to rebound from a rough outing.
The 23-year-old rookie left-hander allowed five runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss at Florida on Saturday as he struggled with his control, walking seven and throwing two wild pitches - one ending up in the first row behind the Marlins’ dugout.
“It was one of those days when I was having trouble finding the zone,” said Chico, who walked Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez twice and threw only 53 of his 112 pitches for strikes. “I was starting to press trying to throw strikes but, unfortunately, I threw more balls.”
Chico might appreciate some early offensive support from the Nationals’ bats. Washington has yet to generate a run in the first inning in 22 games this season to set an NL record.