Washington (71-87) at New York (87-70)

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  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Wed Sep 26, 2007
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After watching their ace struggle and a rally come up short, the New York Mets will turn to a rookie to help preserve their division lead.

Philip Humber, a 24-year-old top prospect, makes his first career start Wednesday as New York tries to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals.

The Mets (87-70) are also trying to avoid losing six consecutive games at home for the first time since a nine-game Shea Stadium slide from Aug. 28-Sept. 12, 2004.

New York lost its fifth game in a row at Shea as its improbable rally from a seven-run, ninth-inning deficit came up short Tuesday in a 10-9 loss to Washington (71-87). The Mets got little help from starter Tom Glavine, who was roughed up for six runs and nine hits, including three homers, in five innings.

However, the second-place Phillies lost 10-6 to Atlanta, keeping New York’s NL East lead at two games and reducing its magic number to four to clinch a second straight division title.

“We can’t rely on the Braves, on the Phillies losing. We have got to go out there and snatch this thing,” Mets third baseman David Wright said.

The Mets, who lost Monday’s series opener 13-4, have not been swept in a series by Washington since losing three contests at Shea from Sept. 13-15, 2005.

Humber (0-0, 3.00 ERA), the third overall selection in the 2004 draft, gets the start after Mets manager Willie Randolph opted to give Pedro Martinez extra rest between outings. Martinez, who has made four starts since returning from rotator cuff surgery, is scheduled to start Thursday against St. Louis.

“He’s going to get the ball and help us win a ballgame,” Randolph said of Humber. “He might throw a gem, and we have to hope that it happens.”

Humber went 11-9 with a 4.27 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 139 innings over 25 starts for Triple-A New Orleans this season. He was recalled by New York on Sept. 1, and has allowed one run and three hits over three innings in two relief appearances.

Humber had a brief outing against Washington on Sept. 24, 2006, throwing a hitless ninth inning in a 5-1 loss.

The Nationals give journeyman Mike Bacsik (5-8, 4.76) a start in place of Shawn Hill, who will undergo season-ending surgery for a nerve problem in his right forearm.

Bacsik, who played for the Mets from 2002-03, will be making his second start in eight appearances this season. He was tagged for five runs and eight hits, including three homers, in 2 2-3 innings of a 13-8 loss at Florida on Sept. 11.

The left-hander was solid in his only start against the Mets, giving up two runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 6-2 victory at Shea on July 27. Bacsik has also thrown 3 1-3 shutout innings in two relief appearances versus New York.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Bacsik WAS vs. P. Humber SD
5-8 Record 0-0
5.11 ERA 7.71
45 K 2
29 BB 2
1.44 WHIP 1.57


Wednesday, Sep 26