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Nationals Back At Home For Series Vs. Mets

(Sports Network) - Johan Santana tries to avoid a third straight loss this evening when the New York Mets begin a four-game series with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

Santana has actually lost three of his last four outings and has surrendered 17 runs in those starts, spanning 25 2/3 innings. His latest setback came on Saturday against Minnesota, which reached Santana for five runs and eight hits in five innings, dropping the former Twin and two-time American League Cy Young Award winner to 5-5 on the season, while raising his earned run average to 3.55.

"It's part of the game. There's only so much I can do," Santana said about his recent struggles. "I know I have to do my job on the mound and try to give the team a chance to win."

A visit to Washington may be just what Santana needs, as the left-hander is 6-2 lifetime against the Nats with a 3.23 ERA in eight starts. However, he lost his last outing to them, surrendering five runs in five innings back on April 11.

Santana could be without shortstop Jose Reyes behind him this evening. Reyes was a late scratch for the finale of the Mets' three-game series with the Florida Marlins on Wednesday in Puerto Rico due to stiffness in his right side.

"I wanted to play today, but I have to be careful with this," said Reyes. "I don't want to rush anything. There's still a lot of baseball left, so I just have to take it easy."

The Mets didn't miss Reyes on Wednesday, as David Wright stroked a two-run double and he and Jesus Feliciano each had two hits in a 6-5 win at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

New York won for just the third time in its last seven games, but still finished June with an 18-8 mark.

"We needed a win," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "That's why we kind of took the chances that we did."

Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, who came in 1-6 lifetime against the Marlins, departed after giving up 12 hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings. Elmer Dessens (2-1) entered the game with runners at the corners, but retired pinch-hitter Mike Lamb on a ground ball to end the fifth and earned the win.

Washington, meanwhile, enters on a sour note after dropping the rubber match of its three-game set with the Atlanta Braves, 4-1, on Wednesday at Turner Field.

J.D. Martin (0-4) was charged with six hits and three runs over five innings, as the Nationals lost for the sixth time in seven games and have now dropped nine straight road series.

Washington hopes Livan Hernandez can get it back on the right track this evening, as he tries to improve upon a 6-4 mark. Hernandez was roughed up his last time out on Saturday in Baltimore, but did not get a decision in the 6-5 loss, despite allowing five runs in six innings to raise his ERA to 3.10.

Hernandez has faced the Mets 34 times and is 12-13 with a 4.38 ERA. He gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings to them back on May 19, but did not get a decision in the 5-3 win.

Washington has won five of its eight meetings this season with the Mets, who are only 1-6 in their last seven visits to DC.