New York at Washington

Venue: Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals are on the brink of matching their longest winning streak over the New York Mets.

Handing the ball to Gio Gonzalez should improve those chances.

Gonzalez looks to continue his dominance over the Mets and lead the Nationals to a 10th straight win in the series Saturday.

With a 5-2 win in Friday's opener, Washington (22-19) moved within one victory of matching the franchise's longest winning streak in the all-time series, set by the Montreal Expos from 1979-80.

Gonzalez (3-3, 3.97 ERA) has put together his own dominant stretch against the Mets (19-22), going 6-0 with a 1.61 ERA in seven starts. He's won three straight while yielding one run and seven hits with 21 strikeouts in 22 innings.

The left-hander connected for a solo homer off Bartolo Colon - Saturday's scheduled starter - while allowing one run and three hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 5-1 win April 2.

Gonzalez, though, is 0-2 with a 5.16 ERA over his last four starts, and his latest was his worst of the season. He surrendered seven runs and nine hits - two homers - while being pulled with one out in the fifth inning of Sunday's 9-1 loss at Oakland.

"Just couldn't find the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "Mistake pitches, left them up in the zone and good hitters made contact."

Facing the Mets could be just what Gonzalez is looking for since they're among the worst offensive teams in baseball with a .229 average. They've been even worse during a three-game slide, batting .152 while their two runs Friday ended a stretch of 22 consecutive scoreless innings.

The offensive issues caused manager Terry Collins to bench Juan Lagares in favor of Bobby Abreu on Friday. Abreu went 1 for 2 with two walks, but Lagares is expected to return to center field, potentially moving Curtis Granderson to right and Abreu to the bench.

Lagares is 5 for 27 (.185) in his last 11 games, but he's 5 for 11 with four extra-base hits and four runs in four meetings with Washington this year. He doubled and tripled in three at-bats versus Gonzalez on April 2.

"Juan is the center fielder, but we've got to somehow get his stroke back," Collins said. "He's starting to expand the zone a little bit right now and when we get him back to taking some of those pitches, he'll be certainly (playing), because his defense is something we need.

"But we're not scoring, so we've got to figure out how to get some runs."

Having Colon (2-5, 5.84) prevent the opposition from scoring would also help.

The right-hander, who turns 41 next week, is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts this month - all on the road. At Yankee Stadium on Monday, he surrendered seven runs and 11 hits - including a grand slam - in 5 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 9-7 win.

Colon has served up a team-high eight homers after allowing 14 with Oakland last year.

"I don't know enough about him in the past to make a real good statement on (whether to be concerned)," Collins told the team's official website. "It's the home runs that are doing the damage to him."

Ian Desmond also homered off Colon on April 2, while Jayson Werth in 3 for 3 with a double in all-time matchups.

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TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
NY Mets1st NL East22.500-2-2 L 1
Washington5th NL East12.333 ½ 1-2 L 2

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Series Game Log
Apr 3WAS 1:05 PM EDT  
Apr 5WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Apr 6WAS 4:05 PM EDT  
Jun 19MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Jun 20MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Jun 21MIA12:10 PM EDT  
Jul 31MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 1MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 2MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 7WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 8WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 9WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 10WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 28WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 29WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 30WAS 4:05 PM EDT  
Sep 4MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 5MIA 7:10 PM EDT  
Sep 6MIA 7:10 PM EDT