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NYM@WSH: Wheeler limits Nats to one run over 6 2/3

The Mets have dominated the Phillies, winning nine of their last 11 meetings, and are 7-1 this season at Citizens Bank Park, where the teams continue their four-game series Sunday.

Taking the mound are pitchers who have had opposite seasons -- New York's Zack Wheeler and Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick.

It's seven straight quality starts and counting for Wheeler, who gave up four walks and three hits in his first three innings against the Nationals on Tuesday. But the right-hander yielded only one run in that span and was able to settle down enough to pitch into the seventh.

"That's what we talk about when we bring up the fact that he's maturing, that he's really starting to figure out what it takes here," manager Terry Collins said. "His command wasn't there at the beginning of the game, but he just continued to battle and stayed with it. He tried to make some big pitches and did. This kid has really, really gotten better. As he continues to improve, the sky's the limit."

Entering Saturday, Wheeler's second half ERA of 1.73 in four outings ranked 16th among qualified starters in the Major Leagues.

Meanwhile, Kendrick's 5.32 ERA in the second half was 18th-worst in baseball before the start of play Saturday. It hasn't escaped anyone's notice just how rough of a year the 29-year-old has had, but he did pitch well in his last turn Tuesday.

Kendrick retired the first 10 batters he faced and saw the minimum 12 batters through four innings. He yielded five hits and one run in seven innings against the Astros, his best effort since 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies on May 26.

Mets: den Dekker could start vs. right-hander Kendrick
With Kendrick on the mound, it's possible that left-handed-hitter Matt den Dekker will be in Sunday's lineup.

den Dekker, who was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas before Saturday's game, has a .334/.407/.540 slash line in 93 games. He hit 31 doubles, seven triples and eight homers and accumulated 46 RBIs.

As for how the batting order will unfold with den Dekker added to the mix, Collins said that it is contingent upon his performance.

"It will be be dictated by how he does," Collins said. "But right now, he'll probably hit in the sixth spot. Especially when you face [the Phillies]. They have four left-handed relievers. I don't want to bunch all of those lefties up when Matt's in there to make it a lot easier for them. But he'll hit in the sixth spot and hopefully he just relaxes and shows us what he can do."

Phillies: Brown returns to lineup, Sizemore sits
Left fielder Dominic Brown was back in the starting lineup Saturday against the Mets for the first time in 10 games after missing time with strep throat. He had not started since July 29 against the Mets at Citi Field.

He was 0-for-2 with a walk. If he starts Sunday, he'll have the chance to improve on his 0-for-5 mark against Wheeler.

Grady Sizemore was the odd man out in the outfield Saturday. Sizemore produced in Brown's absence, going 12-for-34 (.353) with three doubles and five RBIs per the last nine games. He has one hit in four at-bats against Wheeler.

"With a couple of workout days, a good chance to get [Brown] in there," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's had some good success against [Mets Saturday starter Dillon] Gee. But it works both ways with Grady, keeping him fresh. It works good for two players."

Worth noting
• More than 45 Phillies alumni will be introduced on the field before Sunday's game as part of the franchise's Alumni Weekend.

• Kendrick's 4.74 ERA ranked 86th out of 92 qualifying pitchers entering Saturday.

• Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud hit his eighth homer Friday and is third in the NL among rookies in home runs.

• Mets righty Matt Harvey threw 29 pitches off the slope of the mound at the team's Minor League complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Saturday.

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