Washington (14-30) at New York (23-20)

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Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Mon May 25, 2009
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The New York Mets can’t be pleased with a 5-5 road trip after winning their first three games, but they’ll hope for more consistency when they return to Citi Field.

Finding the Washington Nationals in the visitors’ dugout should be a good start.

The Mets return home from their 10-game trip Monday night for the first of three with the last-place Nationals, whose 10-game homestand couldn’t have gone much worse.

New York (23-20) won three games in San Francisco from May 14-16 to start the swing, and it had come out on top in 11 of 13 games heading into its series finale against the Giants. But the Mets were shut out on getaway day at AT&T Park and totaled just 19 runs in concluding their trip 2-5.

They stopped a four-game slide by taking the first two in Boston over the weekend, but a pitching staff that had allowed 17 runs in its previous six contests was lit up Sunday, surrendering eight extra-base hits in a 12-5 loss.

Still, manager Jerry Manuel remained optimistic.

“To win two out of three I think was huge for us here in this ballpark,” Manuel said. “That’s a big boost for us in the situation we’re in right now.”

The Mets’ offense may get a boost Monday. Manuel expects shortstop Jose Reyes, sidelined since Wednesday with tendinitis behind his right calf, to play. Carlos Beltran(notes), who was New York’s designated hitter in Boston because of a bruised right knee, could play as well.

The Nationals (13-30) were 1-8 in the first nine games of their 10-game homestand, and had scored just nine runs in their past four contests heading into Sunday’s finale against Baltimore.

It looked like the Orioles were on their way to a sweep of their natural rivals, holding a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. But Adam Dunn(notes) hit a two-run homer in the sixth and a grand slam in the seventh - giving him a career-high six RBIs - to help the Nationals rally for an 8-5 victory, salvaging at least something from an otherwise terrible homestand.

“(Dunn) showed today the difference that he makes in our lineup and how much we needed him over here,” manager Manny Acta said.

The Nationals are 9-10 when Dunn drives in a run and 4-20 if he doesn’t.

Dunn hasn’t taken too many swings against John Maine(notes) (3-3, 4.53 ERA), who will start for the Mets. Dunn has had nine plate appearances against the right-hander and walked six times.

Dunn is among the major league leaders with 37 walks while Maine has had a problem issuing free passes - his 27 rank among the top 10 in baseball.

Maine walked three Tuesday at Los Angeles, but it was a string of hits that knocked him out in the sixth inning. New York had a 3-2 lead, but after a pair of one-out singles Casey Blake(notes) homered and the Dodgers went on to win 5-3.

The Nationals might be the perfect opponent to help Maine bounce back. He went 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in three starts versus Washington last season despite walking nine in 17 2-3 innings.

John Lannan(notes) (2-3, 3.63) will get the ball for the Nationals, and he’s 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA over his last four outings. He gave up one run and seven hits over seven innings Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

The left-hander, who was born on Long Island, is 1-2 with a 5.20 ERA in five career starts against the Mets.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Lannan Col vs. J. Maine Mia
9-13 Record 7-6
3.88 ERA 4.43
89 K 55
68 BB 38
1.35 WHIP 1.29


Monday, May 25