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FLA@NYM: Pelfrey gets Sanchez to end Marlins' threat

September has been notoriously unkind to the Mets in recent years, and following Tuesday's 3-2 loss, Mets manager Terry Collins finds himself in position to avoid another one. The Mets have dropped six of their last seven games, while relying heavily on young players who are not accustomed to pushing through a late-September schedule. Collins recognized his team's struggles, but has tried to convey a message of persistence.

"It's more mental. To play this game at the level at which you have to in the big leagues, it mentally drains you," Collins said. "When you've got to stay up, you've got to stay focused, you've got to stay prepared and do the rigorous schedule that we've kept, especially in the last four weeks."

Collins noted that Lucas Duda is one player who is trying to regain some momentum during a quiet September. Duda, who hit .311 (50-for-161) with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in July and August combined, had cooled off a bit to hit .273 (15-for-55) in September, before putting together a 3-for-5 night on Tuesday.

"I think in Lucas' case, it's more the thought process of playing a new position at the Major League level and trying to make all the adjustments that need to be made out there in right field," Collins detailed. "The thought process of a position you're familiar with, you know what you've got to do, you know how you've got to react."

On Wednesday, Collins will need Mike Pelfrey to continue to persevere and help snap the Mets' four-game skid. Pelfrey (7-11, 4.66 ERA) is just 2-2 over his last nine starts, but enters Wednesday off a solid outing in which he allowed three earned runs over 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs on Friday.

Pelfrey will square off against Brad Peacock, who makes his first career start for the Nationals. Peacock, a highly-touted prospect who was tagged for a blown save in his Major League debut on Sept. 6, posted a 15-3 record, 2.39 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 25 combined games between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season. The 23-year-old right-hander ranked second among all Minor Leaguers in wins, sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.86) and seventh in strikeouts.

Nationals: Espinosa headed toward rookie power record
• Danny Espinosa is one home run away from becoming the third rookie second baseman in Major League history to eclipse 20 home runs in a season. He would join Dan Uggla (27 in 2006) and Alexei Ramirez (21 in '08). Espinosa can also tie the Nationals rookie home run record held by Ryan Zimmerman (20 in '05) and Brad Wilkerson who hit 20 home runs for Montreal in '02.

• Monday marked the first time Nationals manager Davey Johnson managed in New York since he skippered the Dodgers on April 24, 2000. Johnson managed the Mets from 1984-1990, tallying a 595-417 record and claiming the 1986 World Series title.

Mets: Turner finishing strong
• Justin Turner is enjoying a bounce-back September. The infielder is hitting .378 (14-for-37) with two doubles in September, after hitting just .198 (16-for-81) in August. He has hit safely in 12 for his last 14 games in which he has recorded at least one at-bat.

• Ruben Tejada is hitting .306 (33-for-108) since he was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 8.

• Jose Reyes is hitting .333, which currently leads the National League. The Mets have never had a batting champion in franchise history.

Worth noting
• Reyes (35) and Angel Pagan (31) are the only pair of teammates in baseball to have at least 30 steals. It is the second straight season the duo recorded at least 60 steals.

• Chien-Ming Wang made his first start in New York since pitching for the Yankees on July 4, 2009, allowing two runs in five innings and striking out four on Tuesday.

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