Philadelphia (24-25) bounced back from falling 5-2 in the opener Friday by winning 5-3 on Saturday. Domonic Brown had a home run and an RBI double as the Phillies won for the eighth time in 12 games.
Since Philadelphia's surge started May 11, Washington (25-24) has dropped nine of 14, allowing the Phillies to pull within one game of the Nationals."It's a big series, considering the time of year, for sure," Philadelphia third baseman Michael Young said. "I don't think anyone's under any illusions that this is going to decide who wins the division, but we're playing a very good club in their ballpark."
Young and his teammates could face a major challenge against Strasburg (2-5, 2.66 ERA), who's gone 1-1 with a 0.90 ERA in his past three starts. The right-hander pitched seven innings and allowed one run with seven strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday, though he didn't get the decision.
While Strasburg has been dominant of late, he's had no success against the Phillies in his career, going 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA in three starts. He failed to pitch five innings of two of them, most recently giving up a career high-tying six runs in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-0 home loss July 31.
Hamels (1-7, 4.45 ERA) has also been very good recently, giving up two or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts, but going 1-5 in that span. He's lost his past four starts.
The left-hander has received nine runs of support in the previous six outings and his 2.87 runs of support per game ranks among the worst in the major leagues."You know it's tough on him ... it's got to be," said Brown, batting .400 with seven RBIs in his last five games.
Hamels gave up two runs in six innings with 10 strikeouts in a 5-1 defeat to Miami on Monday.
He might have a good shot to end his losing streak Sunday as he's 5-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 career starts in Washington. He's also gone 11-3 with a 2.18 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 120 innings in his past 18 overall starts against the Nationals.
Jimmy Rollins , 8 for 24 during a five-game hitting streak, is 1 for 8 with a homer and four strikeouts against Strasburg.
Ryan Howard 's home run drought reached 13 games Saturday and he struck out in four consecutive at-bats as his five-game hit streak came to an end.
Lack of offense has been the biggest culprit in Washington's slump, as the Nationals have averaged 2.8 runs during their 5-9 stretch. On Saturday, they collected 11 hits but went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on."It's baby steps," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "We haven't been swinging the bats really at all. To put up 11 hits is good. Now the next thing we tackle is hitting with runners in scoring position."
Leadoff man Denard Span has one of the few bright spots, as he went 3 for 5 on Saturday and is batting .345 over his last six games.
Adam LaRoche is 3 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs in the first two games of this series. He's batting .320 with four homers versus Hamels.
|May 22, 2013||Chase Utley||Day-to-Day||Sore Ribcage|
|May 21, 2013||Chase Utley||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Sore left knee|
|May 20, 2013||Carlos Ruiz||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 19, 2013||Carlos Ruiz||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|May 11, 2013||Mike Adams||15-Day DL||Right back strain|
|May 24, 2013||Danny Espinosa||Day-to-Day||Broken bone in right wrist|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|May 20, 2013||Ryan Mattheus||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|May 16, 2013||Wilson Ramos||15-Day DL||Left hamstring strain|
|May 14, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Jammed left shoulder|
|May 11, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Ingrown toenail|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg won a duel with Cole Hamels , Bryce Harper aggravated a knee, and the Washington Nationals managed to score five runs in an inning for the first time this season.
Still, it is not enough for Davey Johnson to start shaving.
Sunday's 6-1 win kept Washington above .500 and ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
Strasburg (3-5), who has pitched better than his record indicates, struck out a season-high nine and walked one in eight innings.
Philadelphia scored its only run in the eighth on Strasburg's first big league balk. He's allowed three earned runs in his last four starts, lowering his ERA to 2.49 in a season when his offensive support has been so lacking that the Nationals manager vowed to put away his razor until it improves.
"The last two starts are probably the best we've seen him since we've been here in the big leagues," Washington's Ian Desmond said. "Obviously the punch-outs and all the stuff that came before are great, but he's starting to figure it out on another level. He's a young guy growing up."
Washington set a season high for runs in an inning in the seventh, breaking open a scoreless game by putting up five against Hamels (1-8) with the help of an infield hit and a couple of errors.
The key moment was a broken-bat dribbler to third by Jhonatan Solano with the bases loaded. Michael Young charged the ball but made a low throw to home, and the ball scooted away as two runners scored. Steve Lombardozzi followed with a two-run double that chased Hamels.
"A couple of weeks ago, they probably would have turned a double play on that swinging bunt by Solano somehow, someway," Desmond said. "Things are starting to unfold. We're starting to play the game better."
But not enough for Johnson to shave. He said the facial hair is "getting close" to coming off, but pitcher Gio Gonzalez lobbied otherwise, telling the manager: "It's not shaggy enough."
Washington might have to play without Harper for a while after he banged his left knee three times, twice with headfirst slides in the first inning. He slid into second on an infield hit-and-error, then hit the dirt again with a steal of third. He was removed for pinch runner in the seventh.
"He'll probably be down a few days," Johnson said. "I don't know if there's fluid on the knee or what, but he was certainly gimpy."
Harper initially hurt the knee running into a Dodger Stadium wall on May 13. He quickly answered "no" when asked whether he expected to miss any playing time.
"It probably won't get better until the offseason," he said. "I've just got to deal with the pain."
Hamels (1-8) had his latest no-support outing, striking out six and allowing only three hits through six innings. He has lost five straight starts, has had only 20 runs of support scored all season when he's been in the game and hasn't pitched with a lead since April 7.
"We're having a hard time scoring for him and it definitely seems like things aren't going his way right now," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's something he's got to just battle through. I don't know what to tell him except `keep pitching, keep battling through and it'll change."'
NOTES: Hamels and Strasburg accounted for half of the game's hits through six innings. ... Phillies 1B Kevin Frandsen spiked his bat and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Mike Winters after getting called for a check-swing strike three in the fourth inning. Frandsen's first at-bat was also memorable: He took a 95 mph fastball from Strasburg in the hand and chest while trying to bunt for a hit. ... The Phillies activated RHP Mike Adams (right back strain) from the 15-day DL and optioned RHP B.J. Rosenberg to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
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