The Washington Nationals know time is running out to make a late run to the wild card.
They'll try to win their third straight game and fifth in six overall Monday when they visit the New York Mets.
The reigning NL East champ, Washington (73-69) gave itself a chance late last month, winning eight of nine before the Mets (64-77) took two of three in the nation's capital. The Nationals won the last two games of their three-game set with Miami, capped with Sunday's 6-4 victory as Denard Span extended his hitting streak to 19 games - the longest active streak in the majors.
"I liked the way our lineup's swinging the bat," manager Davey Johnson told the team's official website. "We just need to continue. We can't afford to have any lapses. We've got to win them all."
Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.49 ERA) will try to keep Washington's momentum going against one of his favorite foes as he tries to win a third straight start. He overcame three errors Wednesday against Philadelphia, giving up five runs - one earned - in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-6 victory.
"I was a little uncomfortable the whole game," Gonzalez said. "They were being patient and I wasn't pounding the strike zone. A win doesn't have to be pretty, but just a win.''
He was just the opposite versus the Mets on June 30, scattering three hits and two walks in seven shutout innings of a 13-2 rout for his fourth straight win over them. Gonzalez did not get a decision against New York on April 20, allowing five runs and five hits with four walks in four innings of a 7-6 victory.
Gonzalez, who has walked three-plus batters in four straight starts after only doing so once in his prior 10, has gotten 24 runs over his last three starts after receiving nine over his prior six.
Carlos Torres (3-3, 2.89 ERA) has been solid in all but one of his five starts for the Mets, getting tagged for eight runs and nine hits in three innings of a 14-1 loss at Washington on July 28. He has yielded only six runs in 24 2-3 innings in his other four starts.
The right-hander had one bad inning cost him Tuesday at Atlanta, where he gave up seventh-inning homers to Evan Gattis and Andrelton Simmons in a 3-1 defeat.
"That's baseball," Torres said. "Unfortunately, baseball usually comes down to one or two pitches, one or two at-bats, and that's the way it goes."
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who hit a grand slam off Torres in that July victory, is hitting .442 in 24 games lifetime versus the Mets. He went 3 for 5 with a solo homer Sunday. Jayson Werth has gone 13 for 28 in Washington's eight wins over New York but only 3 for 26 with 10 strikeouts in the seven losses.
Eric Young went 2 for 4 and had a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth Sunday to lift New York to a 2-1 victory over Cleveland. He is 15 for 40 (.375) with nine runs scored in his last 10 games.
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