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CHC@WSH: Gio dominates for his 18th win of the season

Gio Gonzalez can become the Major Leagues' first 19-game winner when the Nationals open a three-game series against the Mets on Monday at Citi Field.

If he pitches like he has in his past two outings, his odds are good.

Gonzalez, who will oppose Mets rookie Collin McHugh, has hurled 16 shutout innings over that span, running his record to 18-7 and dropping his ERA to 2.98. He held the Cardinals and Cubs to eight hits and three walks, while striking out 17.

Those performances increased the Cy Young Award talk surrounding the left-hander, which he deflected after Wednesday's win over Chicago.

"I want to continue to win for this team, continue to stay healthy and strong, keep battling and get some more wins for them," Gonzalez said. "We are playing such great baseball. I think it's selfish of me to think [about] myself."

There have been plenty of wins lately for Washington, which leads Atlanta by 5 1/2 games in the National League East after winning nine of its last 12. The Nationals also are 11-4 against the Mets this season, including 5-1 at Citi Field, with five straight victories. This series will be the teams' last of the season.

The Mets started their six-game homestand 0-3 against the Braves and have lost five of six overall.

McHugh has made two big league starts thus far, with vastly different results. The 25-year-old righty struck out nine over seven shutout innings on Aug. 23 against the Rockies, but surrendered four runs in four innings last Monday against the Cardinals.

"I didn't have very good command," McHugh said afterward. "I've got to be smarter, it's as simple as that. I put us in a pretty deep hole early on. Hats off to the guys for scraping, but I've got to do better than that."

Nationals: Burnett making progress
Reliever Sean Burnett was scheduled to play catch for the second straight day on Sunday. If he experiences no problems, he will throw a bullpen session at Citi Field on Monday.

The left-hander has been dealing with elbow soreness and hasn't pitched since Sept. 2. Burnett has given up a run in two straight outings and four of his past seven following a streak of 11 consecutive scoreless appearances.

Burnett has pitched in 61 games this season, posting a 2.49 ERA and holding left-handed batters to a .203 average.

• The Nationals had outscored their opposition by 42 runs in their previous 11 games before Sunday's 8-0 loss to the Marlins.

Mets: Looking to get Turner in the lineup
Justin Turner has played all four infield positions for the Mets this season, and has received significant work as a pinch-hitter. But while he is hitting .255 with a .621 OPS as a substitute, the 27-year-old entered Sunday batting .306 with a .791 OPS in his 27 starts.

With the Mets struggling offensively, manager Terry Collins wants to get Turner in the lineup. He did so Sunday against the Braves, with Turner getting the call at shortstop and going 0-for-3.

"It seems like when he's in the lineup, some things happen," Collins said. "He keeps it moving, he gets hit with a pitch or draws a walk, or gets a hit. With us scuffling the way we are as far as scoring, I thought I'd play him today."

• Outfielder Andres Torres returned to the lineup on Sunday and went 0-for-3 with a walk. He left Friday's game in the second inning with a bruised knee and sat out on Saturday.

Worth noting
• Gonzalez has gone 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA against the Mets this season. In his lone outing at Citi Field, on July 24, he gave up an unearned run on two hits in seven innings, striking out four.

• Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman have combined to slug 12 home runs and drive in 41 runs in the Nationals' 15 meetings with the Mets. Comments