Rookie righthander Luis Altilano, who will start for the first time against the Mets tonight at Citi Field, has contributed to a solid Washington pitching staff that has the Nationals tied for second in the NL East with the Mets just two games behind Philadelphia.

Altilano (2-0, 4.67) won the first two starts of his major league career against the Dodgers and Cubs. But in his last outing against Atlanta, Altilano struggled because he wanted to beat a team that traded him after he underwent "Tommy John surgery" in 2006. He gave up six runs and five walks in that game.

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Mets starter John Maine (1-1, 5.97) gradually has been making progress after a slow start. His fastball still is on cruise control in the high 80's, but Maine is 1-0 with a 2.30 earned run average over his past three starts.

The Nationals are coming off a win over Florida that gave them their fifth series win of the young season. They didn't accomplish that until June 22 last season.