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Mets Start Series With Nationals

(Sports Network) - After breaking out of a prolonged slump with four solid starts, New York Mets hurler Mike Pelfrey fell back into his struggling ways last time out.

That is sort of how his team has been all season long.

Pelfrey will try to get back on track today against a club he has struggled against in the past as the Mets visit Washington to begin a three-game series at Nationals Park.

A 10-game winner by June 25, Pelfrey then endured a seven-start stretch in which he went 0-4 with a 9.00 earned run average over seven starts. The right- hander then rebounded to win three of his next four starts, yielding just four earned runs in that span, before taking a loss in Atlanta on Wednesday after giving up four runs on nine hits over five innings of work.

"Obviously I have to get back to executing pitches," said Pelfrey after the setback. "That is the name of the game. I didn't execute very many pitches tonight. That's a good team over there."

Pelfrey dropped to 13-8 with a 3.72 ERA on the season, and his next victory will set a new career high. However, while he is 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA versus the Nationals this season, he is just 4-5 with a 4.02 ERA against the club lifetime.

New York can make things easier for Pelfrey today if it can continue to swing hot bats. The Mets pounded out a season-high 21 hits in Sunday's finale with the Chicago Cubs, avoiding a three-game sweep with an 18-5 triumph.

Ruben Tejada drove in five runs and hit his first career homer, while Ike Davis drove in three runs and scored three times, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. Jon Niese gave up five runs over six-plus innings in the victory, just the Mets' second in seven games so far on a 10-game road trip.

"Obviously my numbers don't look good on paper, but I'm thankful that our offense did a great job today," said Niese.

The Nationals have won five of their last eight and are also coming off a victory on Sunday, as they notched an 8-1 triumph over the Pirates in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Ryan Zimmerman drove in four runs for Washington, while Adam Dunn hit a solo homer and drove in two runs on the day. Jason Marquis gave up just the one run over six innings for the victory.

"Start by start I feel I'm getting closer to being consistent," Marquis said.

Jordan Zimmermann is also taking a start-by-start approach as he makes his third tonight since returning from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander was tagged for five runs over four innings in his return versus St. Louis on Aug. 26, but then limited Florida to just a hit over six scoreless innings on Tuesday. Zimmermann struck out nine without a walk, but earned his second no- decision of 2010.

"It's probably the best I've felt in a long time," Zimmermann told Washington's website. "I kept the ball down and actually got some fastballs inside, which I didn't do in my first start."

The 24-year-old is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts versus the Mets.

The Nationals have won seven of 12 versus the Mets this year, with the clubs splitting six meetings so far in Washington.