R.A. Dickey will go for his 19th win Tuesday night against the Nationals. If he gets it, Dickey will tie Gio Gonzalez, who beat the Mets Monday night for his 19th win, 5-1, at a sparsely populated Citi Field.
Gonzalez (19-7), the major leagues' wins leader and one of Dickey's competitors for the NL Cy Young Award, allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out six.
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The Nationals hit three home runs off Mets starter Collin McHugh. The first, a solo shot by Kurt Suzuki in the third inning, came two pitches after catcher Kelly Shoppach dropped a foul pop for an error.
Later in the inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-out, two-run homer to the right of the Home Run Apple in centerfield to give Washington a 3-0 lead.
Ian Desmond hit a two-run shot to right-center in the fourth off McHugh (0-2), who was tagged for five runs (two earned) in four innings in his third major-league start.
Scott Hairston led off the Mets' fourth with a homer to left, his 16th.
The Mets have lost 20 of 24 home games and scored three runs or fewer in 11 straight home games, so manager Terry Collins made a change to the Mets' pregame routine in an effort to spark the offense. Collins thought his starting players took batting practice too far away from game time -- 2 hours, 25 minutes in his estimation -- so he tinkered with the schedule to move the starters back during the Mets' BP window. By rule, the home team has to be done by 5:30 so the visiting team can get in its batting practice. Generally, the Mets hit later (and score more runs) on the road.
"It's a minor thing," Collins said. "We're kind of grasping at straws to see if anything works . . . Does it make a difference? Probably not."
Notes & quotes: Collins said that Jenrry Mejia will start in place of Jeremy Hefner on Saturday in Milwaukee . . . Jeurys Familia threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts in his third appearance.