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The Washington Nationals used nine home runs and solid pitching to win their last three games and keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Jordan Zimmermann takes his team-best 16 wins to the mound Tuesday as the Nationals try to extend their streak against the host New York Mets. Ryan Zimmerman has led the power surge with four homers in the last three games - and six in his last seven - for Washington, which trails Cincinnati by seven games for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Nationals recorded five blasts and received a one-hit shutout from Gio Gonzalez to win the series opener 9-0 on Monday. The Mets have dropped six of eight contests in September and are last in the NL in home wins with 28. New York's Daniel Murphy already has set career highs in runs (82) and RBIs (67) and needs two hits to match his best of 166 from last season.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), SNY (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Jordan Zimmermann (16-8, 3.30 ERA) vs. Mets RH Dillon Gee (11-9, 3.53)
Zimmermann is 4-2 in his last seven starts as his career-best season continues, but he has not had much luck against the Mets. He is 0-3 despite a solid 3.29 ERA in four starts against New York this year. Murphy is 11-for-35 with three homers versus Zimmermann, who stands 3-5 with a 3.09 ERA in 15 career outings against the Mets.
Gee has been outstanding in his last seven starts, going 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA since losing to Washington on July 27. The 27-year-old beat the Nationals in his other four meetings this season and is 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 career starts against Washington. Ian Desmond is 6-of-29 with three homers versus Gee, who has struck out 124 and walked 43 in 173 1/3 innings.
1. Nationals CF Denard Span has hit safely in 20 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.
2. Mets C Travis d’Arnaud, the key to the R.A. Dickey trade in the offseason, continues to struggle with one hit in 23 at-bats over his last six games.
3. Desmond needs one steal to clinch his second consecutive season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.
PREDICTION: Nationals 3, Mets 1