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4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, April 18, 2018
Citi Field, Flushing, New York  Attendance: 23,117

Mets look to end brief skid against Nationals

NEW YORK -- In finding their groove for the first time in two weeks, the Washington Nationals have presented rookie New York Mets skipper Mickey Callaway with the first challenge of his managerial career.

The Nationals will look to continue testing Callaway and the Mets on Wednesday night, when Washington aims to complete a sweep of the three-game series at Citi Field.

The Nationals took advantage of the Mets' struggles with runners on base to earn a 5-2 victory Tuesday night. Washington came back from a five-run eighth-inning deficit to beat New York 8-6 in the opener Monday night.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (1-1, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Mets left-hander Steven Matz (1-1, 3.77) on Wednesday.

While the season is not even one-sixth complete, the results of the last two nights certainly changed the early season tenor in the NL East. The Nationals (9-9) were on the verge of falling seven games behind the Mets (12-4) on Monday night but can close within three games Wednesday with a win.

A victory by the Nationals also would negate New York's sweep of Washington April 5-7, which came in the midst of a 3-8 stretch for the two-time defending NL East champions.

"You always want to keep the momentum, especially for something good like this, especially (against) a team that's as strong right now as the Mets," said Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who earned the win Tuesday after allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. "You want to try to catch up, shorten that distance."

The first losing streak of the season threatens to put deep in the rearview mirror the vibes of the Mets' feel-good start. Callaway was the second manager in history to open his career with at least 11 wins in his first 12 games, a stretch in which New York earned six come-from-behind victories.

But the Mets could not overcome the Nationals despite numerous opportunities Tuesday, when New York stranded 11 baserunners, including two apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

"We had a few opportunities," Callaway said afterward. "We were one swing away a few times and we just didn't get it done."

Roark and Matz are pitching for the first time since Friday. Roark took the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings as the Nationals fell to the Colorado Rockies 2-1. Meanwhile, Matz earned his first win in more than nine months despite giving up four runs (three earned) over 5 1/3 innings as the Mets edged the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5.

Roark is 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 career games (12 starts) against the Mets. He has defeated New York more than any other opponent except the Braves, against whom Roark also has seven wins. He has already faced the Mets once this year, giving up five hits and five runs in five innings without getting a decision in the Mets' 6-5, 12-inning victory April 8.

Matz is 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five career starts against the Nationals. The ERA is the lowest Matz has compiled versus any team he has opposed more than once.

Matz faced Washington on April 7 this year, but didn't figure in the decision after giving up three hits and one unearned run while striking out eight over five innings in the Mets' 3-2 victory.

Updated April 18, 2018

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