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Mets-Nationals Preview

On the verge of clinching home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs, the weather isn't helping the Washington Nationals' cause.

The Nationals have a chance to wrap up the league's top seed Thursday when they face the visiting New York Mets in a day-night doubleheader with another twinbill looming Friday.

Ryan Zimmerman, working his way back from a 55-game absence because of a strained right hamstring, was supposed to play third base Tuesday but was limited to a pinch-hit appearance due to soreness in a 4-2 win over New York. He was scheduled to play left field Wednesday before rain forced Thursday's doubleheader.

"We're being cautious in that regard,'' manager Matt Williams said. ''He can monitor his gait and things like that in the outfield.''

The Nationals (92-64) also lost Denard Span on Tuesday when the center fielder got hurt making a diving catch in the third inning. The leadoff man, who has a team-high .300 average and 31 steals, was replaced after walking slowly back to the dugout.

Williams is expecting to use Span in at least one game Thursday.

''No need to push it, for sure, right now,'' Williams said.

If things fall their way, the Nationals could secure home-field advantage as early as Thursday before hosting Miami for another doubleheader Friday.

''It's not ideal for sure, but we can't do much about the weather,'' Williams said. ''We're not the only team that's had to play doubleheaders this year. We've got to deal with it.''

Washington is seeking a sixth straight win overall and 20th in 23 meetings with the Mets (76-81).

The Nationals give the ball to Blake Treinen (2-3, 1.94 ERA) in Game 1 for the first time since a 3-1 loss to Atlanta last Wednesday. The rookie right-hander, though, allowed three hits in five scoreless innings in his first start since a 7-2 win over the Cubs on June 28.

Treinen, a September callup, is 1-0 while tossing eight scoreless innings in three games since yielding one run in two innings of relief in a 6-1 home defeat to New York on Aug. 5.

Gio Gonzalez (9-10, 3.74) gets the nod in the nightcap, and he's allowed three earned runs or fewer while going at least six innings in each of his last six starts. The left-hander had been 0-5 with a 5.20 ERA over his previous seven.

He gave up two runs over seven innings in last Thursday's 6-2 win at Miami for his third victory in four starts.

"You look back to not too long ago, where his slot was a little bit off and he was losing control of the fastball up and away to righties," Williams said. "He didn't have a feel for his curveball. But he's got that back."

Gonzalez is 6-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 12 starts against the Mets, though he's 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in four this season. He's struggled at home in the season series, surrendering nine runs and 13 hits over nine innings in a pair of defeats.

The Mets will counter Gonzalez with Zack Wheeler (11-10, 3.49), who is 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last 10 road starts, including a 6-1 win over Washington on Aug. 5. The right-hander allowed one run before leaving with two outs in the seventh.

He's won his last two outings as the visitor by yielding one run with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. However, those sandwich a 10-3 defeat to the Nationals during which he was tagged for six runs in four innings Sept. 13.

Before Wheeler takes the mound, Dillon Gee (7-8, 3.88) will start the opener, and he's 3-7 with a 4.95 ERA in his last 12 starts after going 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA prior to the All-Star break. The right-hander allowed four runs over 6 2-3 innings in last Wednesday's 4-3 home loss to the Marlins.

Gee has gone 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA in three home meetings with the Nationals this season, but he's 4-1 with a 3.57 ERA in six career starts in Washington.

Adam LaRoche is 3 for 6 with two home runs when facing Gee in 2014. He has gone deep six times with 18 RBIs over 14 games against New York this season after hitting his 26th homer Tuesday.

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