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Mets' rotation continues tuning up for playoffs

Washington (66-86) at NY Mets (92-60) 7:10 pm EDT


FLUSHING, New York (Ticker) - In two weeks, games at Shea Stadium will have a much larger significance.


The Mets begin their final home series of the season Friday night as they face the Washington Nationals in the opener of a four-game set.


New York has dominated the National League East Division and picked up 49 wins at home. One of those wins was Monday's 4-0 victory over Florida, which clinched its first NL East title since 1988.


After this series, the next time the Mets will be at home will be for Game One of the Division Series. But for now, New York's veteran rotation will be tuning up for the playoffs.


In Thursday's 5-2 loss to Florida, Pedro Martinez looked decent in five innings as he struck out seven. On Friday it will be Orlando Hernandez turn to make another tune-up start.


Hernandez (10-10, 4.85) has allowed three runs or fewer in his last four starts and in 14 of 18 starts as a Met. "El Duque" last pitched a week ago in Pittsburgh, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings.


Washington has lost eight of its last 13 contests and dropped two of three to Atlanta in a mid-week series. Alfonso Soriano went 2-for-12 in the series and in his last nine games he is 4-for-35.


Soriano enters with 45 home runs and will try to snap his slump in support of Pedro Astacio (4-5, 6.38), who is facing the Mets for the first time this season.


Astacio, who pitched for New York in 2002 and 2003, is coming off an 8-5 victory in Milwaukee. He allowed four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

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