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Strasburg Takes The Hill As Nationals Face Mets

(Sports Network) - The New York Mets get a first-hand look at the phenom Stephen Strasburg this afternoon when they continue their four-game set against Washington at Nationals Park.

Strasburg had his worst outing as a pro on Monday in Atlanta, as the Braves hit him for four runs (three earned) and six hits in 6 1/3 innings, sending him to his second straight loss and dropping him to 2-2, while raising his earned run average to 2.27.

"Not good enough to win the game, period," Strasburg said. "For the most part I did well enough to keep the team in the ball game, but things aren't working for us right now."

The 21-year-old right-hander did strike out seven in the loss and has fanned an incredible 48 batters in 31 2/3 innings.

Strasburg, though, will have to better than Luis Atilano was on Friday for the Nationals, as Alex Cora drove in three runs to back Jon Niese's solid pitching performance in the Mets' 5-3 win.

Niese (6-2) gave up one run on six hits in seven innings. The 23-year-old left-hander also struck out a career-high eight batters en route to winning his fifth straight decision. Niese also had an RBI.

"He's making the pitches when he has to make them," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of Niese. "Hopefully that's a sign that he's maturing right before our eyes."

Ike Davis knocked in a run for the Mets, while David Wright went 3-for-5 with a run scored for the victors.

Josh Willingham hit a solo homer for the Nationals, who have dropped seven of their past nine games. Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond had an RBI apiece.

Atilano (6-5) got rocked in 3 2/3 frames, allowing five runs on four hits. He also fanned four batters and walked two in the loss.

New York, meanwhile, will hand the ball today to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who is coming off his first loss of the season. Dickey was hit hard by the Florida Marlins in Puerto Rico on Monday, as he surrendered five runs and five hits in five innings to fall to 6-1 on the year to go along with a 2.98 ERA.

Dickey did not get a decision against the Nats in his first start of the year back on May 19, but is 0-1 in three outings (two starts) against them with an 8.38 ERA.

Washington has won seven of its last nine at home versus the Mets, who are 6-4 overall against the Nats this season.