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COL@WSH: Zimmermann superb over 6 1/3 shutout frames

The Mets and Nationals will meet Sunday in Nationals Park, and they'll show off key parts of their future in the left-hander and right-hander opposing each other on the pitcher's mound.

For the Mets, southpaw Jon Niese will continue his growth as a Major Leaguer. The same can be said for Washington righty Jordan Zimmermann, who, like Niese, is having his share of ups and downs in 2011.

Niese was awarded with a victory in his last start, his 10th win of the year, despite giving up five runs on six hits in five innings against the Reds in Cincinnati. His offense picked him up, scoring eight runs on 12 hits.

That was good enough for Niese, an Ohio native, who reached double digits in the W column in front of family and friends.

"Hopefully this is the beginning of a long career," Niese said. "I don't want to be satisfied with what I've been doing so far. I just want to keep moving forward."

Zimmermann very well might have a similar attitude.

The righty has had stellar starts this season, but his last two were not in that category, and on Sunday it'll be up to him to bounce back.

In his last outing, Zimmermann allowed six runs in 6 2/3 inning in a home loss to Florida. Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he felt Zimmermann has had too much rest between starts. In his first game after the All-Star break, Zimmermann pitched on nine days' rest against the Astros and lost, 7-6. On Tuesday, he pitched on six days' rest.

Maybe now that his regular routine is back in play, the results will come.

"He is a great young pitcher," Johnson said. "I just hate to see him leave the balls up and struggling."

Mets: Wright looking right
• Third baseman David Wright is 19-for-40 (.475) with 10 runs scored, three doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs since returning to the lineup. Wright now has logged seven straight games with multiple hits to set a career-high total. Steve Henderson holds the franchise record with eight straight games with at least two hits from July 12-21, 1979.

• Justin Turner went 0-for-4 on Saturday to see his hitting streak snapped at 10 games. Still, Turner is batting Turner is batting .306 (15-for-49) in his last 11 games. His 10-game streak tied for the third longest this season among all rookies.

• Reliever Jason Isringhausen earned his fifth save of the season and the 298th of his career Friday night. Isringhausen has converted his last five save chances and is two saves shy of becoming the 23rd pitcher in Major League history to reach the 300-save mark. The right-hander has allowed one run over his last 10 innings dating back to July 5.

Nationals: Espinosa going deep
• Danny Espinosa's 17 home runs are tied for the second most among Major League second basemen. Only Atlanta's Dan Uggla (20) has more. Espinosa leads Washington with 49 runs scored, and his 17 home runs are tied with Michael Morse for the club lead.

• Wilson Ramos' eight homers as a catcher (he has one as a pinch-hitter) already rank second on the Nationals' single-season list. Brian Schneider established the Nationals' standard for catchers with a 10-homer effort during the inaugural season of 2005.

• Laynce Nix's next homer will match his career high of 15 with Cincinnati in 2009.

Worth noting
• In three career games, all starts, Niese is 2-0 with a 3.44 ERA (seven earned runs in 18 1/3 innings) vs. Washington.

• Nationals closer Drew Storen has eight saves and a 1.50 ERA (two earned runs in 12 innings) in his last 11 appearances dating to June 26. He has held teams scoreless in 11 of his last 12 appearances.

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