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Nationals, Mets Set To Finish Series This Afternoon

(Sports Network) - Hisanori Takahashi may be fighting for his rotation spot this afternoon when the New York Mets and Washington Nationals close out a four-game set at Nationals Park.

Takahashi at times has looked brilliant, but has also had some dreadful outings, like his last two. And with Oliver Perez starting to make some rehabilitation starts, another poor outing could mean the end for Takahashi.

The Japanese left-hander was lucky not to get a decision on Tuesday against Florida, as the Marlins ripped him for six runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 7-6 loss. That start followed up an equally atrocious outing on June 24 that saw the Detroit Tigers hit him for six runs in four innings.

The trend for Takahashi, who has given up just one run in his three wins as a starter, has been two good starts, followed by two poor outings, with the same outcome in his subsequent four appearances. So, he could be in line for a win today, as he tries to improve upon a 6-3 mark.

Takahashi, who has pitched to a 4.24 ERA, has faced the Nationals four times out of the bullpen, but this will be his first start against them.

The Mets will be trying to overcome a heartbreaking loss from Saturday, as Ivan Rodriguez singled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a wild, three-run rally that lifted Washington to a dramatic 6-5 comeback victory.

New York has suffered 13 losses in the opponent's final at-bat - three coming on this seven-game road trip that comes to a close today.

Adam Dunn's two-run double off the top of the wall in center field tied the game before Rodriguez lined his decisive hit to right field with the bases loaded and one out to lift the Nationals to their seventh win in 11 games against the Mets this season.

With 36 wins overall, the Nationals have 10 more victories than they did at the All-Star break last year. They didn't record their 36th win last season until Aug. 5, 2009.

Matt Capps (2-3) earned the win after entering the game with runners at first and second base with nobody out in the ninth and stranding them to keep the Nationals within two runs.

Stephen Strasburg allowed four hits and two runs, walked three and had five strikeouts in a five-inning start for the Nationals.

Francisco Rodriguez (2-2) suffered the loss and blew his fourth save chance of the season after giving up all three runs on three hits and three walks for the Mets, who suffered their 10th loss of the season in their opponent's final at-bat.

"The win was real special because it was against a very good ball club, against their closer, who is outstanding," said Nationals' manager Jim Riggleman. "As much as we've struggled lately to just keep fighting the way we did, I'm very proud of our ballplayers."

Washington, meanwhile, will hand the ball to 26-year-old right-hander Craig Stammen, who had a successful return from the minors on Tuesday in Atlanta. Stammen held the Braves to two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings of that one, as he improved to 2-2, while lowering his ERA to 5.13.

"I had some things I needed to prove and tonight was a good night for me," Stammen said after the outing. "I had some good games when I went down to Triple-A so my confidence was pretty good. It was just a matter of executing and for the most part I did that tonight."

Stammen has faced the Mets four times and is 1-2 with a 5.24 ERA in those starts.

Washington has won eight of its last 10 at home versus the Mets.