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NYM@PHI: Young fans seven over 5 1/3 frames

Entering the season, the back end of the Mets' starting rotation was a question mark. On Saturday, veteran righty Chris Capuano had an overall solid 2011 debut with eight strikeouts. On Sunday, fourth starter Chris Young will look to follow Capuano with his second straight strong performance.

Young (1-0, 1.69 ERA) will face fellow right-hander Jason Marquis (0-0, 2.84) in Sunday's series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field.

In his season debut April 5, Young earned the victory against Philadelphia, holding the Phillies to one run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He also had seven strikeouts. Young's catcher that day, Mike Nickeas, called the pitcher's performance "sparkling." Center fielder Angel Pagan had similar feeling, calling it "unbelievable."

Young was a bit more conservative with his assessment.

Like Young, Marquis also is looking to build on his strong 2011 debut. In his last start, Marquis held Florida to two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. What was most impressive about Marquis' outing was his ability to consistently pitch out of trouble. The Marlins had runners in scoring position five times with fewer than two outs, but the righty allowed only those two runs.

Nationals: LaRoche sits with sore shoulder
First baseman Adam LaRoche sat out Saturday's 8-4 loss because of a sore left shoulder, the same one in which he has a torn rotator cuff. LaRoche said the pain grew worse following Tuesday's game, including on simple throws to second base. Hitting, however, doesn't bother him.

LaRoche was optimistic he'd be back in the lineup in Sunday's series finale.

"I'm going to try to calm it down," LaRoche said of the shoulder. "We are going to treat it a couple of more times [Saturday] and not throw at all. It's probably something I'm going to deal with for a while."

Unless the shoulder affects his swing, LaRoche said he doesn't anticipate a trip to the disabled list.

• Dating back to last season, left-hander Sean Burnett has thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings. It's the longest streak for a Nationals pitcher since John Lannan threw 21 straight scoreless frames in early 2008.

Mets: Bullpen getting lots of early work
After getting a combined 11 innings from their starters on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the Mets have heavily worked the bullpen in the season's early going.

"It's been a concern, but it is early," manager Terry Collins said. "I don't have the answer for it."

Collins admitted he needs to keep an eye on how much he works his relievers.

"I don't want to burn certain guys out, because we've got a long way to go yet," Collins said. "We've got to start getting some innings out of our starters."

On Saturday, the bullpen threw only three innings after getting six innings from Capuano.

• On Saturday, Mets backup catcher Ronny Paulino served the eighth and final game on the 50-game drug suspension he received last season. Now that Paulino is eligible to return, the Mets must decide whether they will place him on 15-day disabled list with anemia -- a disorder defined by a decrease in the quantity of hemoglobin in the blood -- or add him to the active roster. Due to his suspension, the Mets would be unable to backdate a potential stay on the DL -- meaning if disabled, Paulino would be ineligible to return until April 25.

• Jason Bay (strained left intercostal muscle) hit off a tee again Saturday and plans to take regular batting practice Sunday. There is no updated timetable for Bay's return.

Worth noting
Saturday marked the first time Washington faced a left-handed starter this season. The Nationals were the only team who had yet to face a lefty. ... Mets first baseman Ike Davis has driven in at least one run in seven of the Mets' eight games this season. ... David Wright (12-for-30 with two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs) and Jose Reyes (9-for-28) have had success against Marquis in their careers. Carlos Beltran (4-for-21 with six strikeouts), has not.

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