Series preview: Mets at Nats

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The Mets are scheduled to face (l to r) Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Ross Ohlendorf this weekend.METS (60-72, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (68-65, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Dillon Gee (9-9, 3.69) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32), 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-3, 3.42) vs. RHP Dan Haren (8-11, 4.66), 7:05 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.69) vs. RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.58), 8:05 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• The Nats have moved within 6½ games of the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild-card spot by winning 14 of their past 19 games. Washington has 29 games remaining. The Nats were a season-worst six games under .500 on Aug. 7, after getting swept at home by the Atlanta Braves.

Bryce Harper on Thursday clubbed his 41st career homer. That is the third most in major league history before turning 21, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only with more: Mel Ott (61) and Tony Conigliaro (56). Harper isn’t legally able to drink until Oct. 16. Harper has a career-high 11-game hitting streak. He is hitting .409 (18-for-44) during that stretch.

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Jayson Werth was the NL Player of the Month in July.

Ian Desmond produced his 20th homer Thursday, which trails only Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki (22) among National League shortstops. Desmond’s 55 extra-base hits lead that group, as do his 33 doubles. He is two steals shy of his second straight 20-20 season. The only other Nat to reach that plateau in homers and steals in a season: Alfonso Soriano, who had 46 homers and 41 steals in 2006.

• After his Wednesday outing was cut short after two innings and 22 pitches by rain, the Nats considered using Stephen Strasburg on Sunday against the Mets, but passed. Manager Davey Johnson is leaning strongly toward using Ross Ohlendorf. Strasburg experienced back tightness during a 72-minute delay.

Ohlendorf’s rotation security is tenuous. The Nats plan to insert rookie Tanner Roark into the rotation. Although Ohlendorf is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 12 appearances (four starts) this season, he has stalled in the fifth inning in his two starts since returning from the disabled list.

• Right fielder Jayson Werth enters the series one plate appearance shy of qualifying to be listed among the league’s batting leaders (3.1 PAs/team game). Werth would be tied with Chris Johnson at .329 for second in the NL in average, trailing only Yadier Molina (.333). Since July 4, Werth is hitting .405 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs in 48 games. He was the NL Player of the Month for July.

Jordan Zimmermann’s 15 wins are tied with Adam Wainwright for the NL lead. Zimmermann is one of many examples of a successful return from Tommy John surgery. He underwent the procedure in Aug. 19, 2009 and was back pitching in the majors 12 months, seven days later.

• Center fielder Denard Span has a 12-game hitting streak.

• The Nats traded catcher Kurt Suzuki to the Oakland Athletics last Friday for Class A right-hander Dakota Bacus. They also acquired a player to be named from the Tampa Bay Rays for David DeJesus, four days after claiming DeJesus off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.