The Washington Nationals have been soaring offensively in a bid to stay in the playoff chase, though they came up empty in the series opener.
It's not likely to get any easier against one of the league's top rookie hurlers.
Washington had averaged 6.3 runs and hit .318 while winning eight of nine before being limited to a pair of solo home runs and four other hits in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Mets (61-72).
Although Ryan Zimmerman went 2 for 4 to raise his average to .381 over his last 10 games, Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 to end his career-best 11-game hitting streak. In his final at-bat, Harper failed to run hard on a groundout with men on first and second in the eighth inning."I don't think he does it intentionally, but he's going to have to start picking it up a little bit because we've got everybody else doing it," said bench coach Randy Knorr , who filled in after manager Davey Johnson left due to illness. "It's something that we've got to fix."
The Nationals (68-66) remain 6 1/2 games back of Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot following the Reds' loss in Colorado.
They'll attempt to get the bats going and chip away at that deficit against Wheeler (6-3, 3.42 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last five road starts - all New York victories.
Wheeler has also been tough in his last four outings overall, going 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA with 28 strikeouts over 25 2-3 innings.
Following the loss of All-Star starter Matt Harvey to a torn elbow ligament, the Mets are likely to have their rookie right-hander on a pitch count after limiting him to 105 in his last start."I understand but I really want to be out there," Wheeler said. "It's definitely going to be a while before any of us get back up there in pitch count. It's not their fault, but it's just human when your best pitcher goes down."
The Nationals have been one of the few opponents who have been able to get to Wheeler, tagging him for a season-worst five runs and six hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 13-2 win on June 30.
Washington counters with right-hander Dan Haren (8-11, 4.66), who will try to stop the Mets from winning their fourth in five games following a five-game skid.
Haren has a chance to win his fifth straight decision, though he surrendered a four-run first inning before settling down and leaving after the seventh without a decision in Sunday's 6-4 loss at Kansas City. He had gone 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in his previous five starts.
Though Haren was tagged for five runs over four frames in a 10-1 loss to the Mets on June 5, he struck out six while yielding one run and three hits over seven innings in a 4-1 victory July 27.
Daniel Murphy went 2 for 4 in the first meeting with Haren and is 7 for 11 with three doubles over his last three games overall.
|New York Mets|
|August 27, 2013||Matt Harvey||15-Day DL||Torn right UCL - out for season|
|August 26, 2013||Matt Harvey||Day-to-Day||Torn right elbow ligament|
|August 18, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||15-Day DL||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 17, 2013||Jenrry Mejia||Day-to-Day||Right elbow discomfort|
|August 10, 2013||Jeremy Hefner||15-Day DL||Partially torn ligament, right elbow|
|August 03, 2013||David Wright||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|August 22, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 17, 2013||Taylor Jordan||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 13, 2013||Wilson Ramos||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|August 11, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Right knee|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As he nears the end of his rookie season, Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler has talked lately about being tired.
On Saturday night, he made the Washington Nationals look listless.
Wheeler pitched effectively into the seventh inning and New York piled up a season-high 17 hits in routing the Nationals 11-3.
Wheeler (7-3) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out three and walking one. Since the start of July, the touted rookie is 6-2 with a 2.96 ERA.
"Because he's throwing strikes," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's not trying to strike people out. With the great arm that he had, people were looking for that and I think when he got up here he thought he had to do that."
Eric Young Jr., Daniel Murphy , Josh Satin and Juan Lagares had three hits apiece for New York, which scored 11 runs for the second time in three days and won its third straight.
The news wasn't all good for the injury-riddled Mets, though. Ike Davis left with a strained muscle on his right side after hitting a sacrifice fly in the third, and Collins said the first baseman is probably done for the season.
The Nationals, who dropped 7 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the second NL wild card, have lost the first two games of the series.
Denard Span had three hits for Washington, extending his hitting streak to 14 games.
Dan Haren (8-12) allowed seven runs and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings, his shortest start of the season.
The Mets have won 10 of Wheeler's 14 starts, and he improved to 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA on the road.
Wheeler allowed two runs in the sixth but went back out for the seventh, getting the first two outs before he gave up a single and was pulled after 99 pitches.
"(I) also know what he's saying about getting a little tired," Collins said. "He's the one who came in after the sixth inning and said he wanted to go back out there. I said, `Then stop telling everybody you're tired, and you will get back out there."'
Wheeler responded, "My (velocity) is not up so obviously I'm a little tired, but once you get out there and get going, you don't even know about it."
The win was tempered by the loss of Davis, who was demoted to the minors in June. Now, he's likely headed to the disabled list.
"I doubt we see him," Collins said. "I feel terrible for Ike. He went to the minor leagues. He worked very hard on some things. Came back, started to see some signs . and 2013's going to go down as a real frustrating year for Ike Davis ."
Davis hit .290 (20 for 69) in August.
Haren, who had been pitching well since a stint on the DL, has given up 11 earned runs over 9 2-3 innings in his last two starts.
"I tried to battle, but it seemed like everything they put in play was a hit," Haren said.
The Mets got two in the second. With one out, Travis d'Arnaud and Lagares singled. After Haren fanned Matt den Dekker, Omar Quintanilla hit a drive to right-center just beyond the reach of a diving Span for a two-run double.
In the third, the Mets sent 11 batters to the plate. Young led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Murphy. With Murphy running, Satin singled to left, putting runners on first and third.
Davis drove in Murphy with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. After d'Arnaud singled, Lagares singled to right, and Jayson Werth 's throw to the plate cut down Satin. But den Dekker followed with his first major league hit, a single that scored d'Arnaud and ended Haren's night.
Consecutive walks, the second one to Wheeler, forced in a run, and Young capped the inning with a two-run single to make it 8-0.
"Everything that could go wrong in the second and third inning did," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
Washington got two back in the sixth on Werth's sacrifice fly and Ian Desmond 's RBI single.
NOTES: Lucas Duda replaced Davis at first base. New York also is missing All-Star third baseman David Wright , closer Bobby Parnell and several starting pitchers due to injuries - including young ace Matt Harvey . ... Desmond added his 34th double of the season, a career high. ... Johnson was back in the dugout one night after leaving in the fourth inning due to dehydration. ... Johnson said he would speak to Bryce Harper regarding Harper not hustling after hitting a grounder to second in the eighth inning of Friday night's 3-2 loss. Johnson added that Harper might be favoring his left knee, which he injured earlier this year. Harper missed 31 games due to bursitis in the knee and Johnson said minor offseason surgery to remove a bursa sac is an option. ... Young stole a base for the fourth straight game. ... LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.69 ERA) opposes Washington RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58) in the series finale Sunday night.