The Washington Nationals have done their best lately to try to reduce their sizable deficit in the NL wild card race. Having Stephen Strasburg on the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies might further that cause.
The right-hander will try to add to his string of incredible performances against Philadelphia on Friday night, his career-high 29th start of the season.
Washington (77-69) earned its season-high sixth consecutive win and completed a four-game sweep of the New York Mets with a 7-2 victory Thursday. Ryan Zimmerman hit the first of the Nationals' four home runs and pushed them within 5 1/2 games of Cincinnati for the NL's final playoff berth.
"We're creeping a little bit," said Denard Span , who extended his career-best hit streak to 23 games with an eighth-inning double. "We're not worrying about them. I'm pretty sure they're not worrying about us. They're just trying to take care of their business, and we're trying to do the same."
Washington will try to get even closer with a fifth straight home win against Philadelphia (68-78) and sixth in seven overall matchups.
Washington would appear to have a good chance at earning that victory behind Strasburg. He's 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season, and has totaled 29 strikeouts and three walks in 23 innings.
Strasburg (7-9, 2.96 ERA) gave up four runs over six innings in his latest outing Sunday in Miami but benefited from generous run support in a 6-4 win, his first since pitching a four-hitter versus Philadelphia on Aug. 11 for his first shutout.
Strasburg, shut down after his 28th start last season, has one of the best home ERAs in the majors at 1.55 and hasn't allowed a run in his last 13 innings there.
He'll pitch opposite Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51), loser in a career high-tying four consecutive decisions and four straight road starts.
Kendrick is also 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA in his last nine starts but had a solid outing Saturday against Atlanta. He gave up three runs and four hits over six innings while matching a career high with eight strikeouts in that 6-5 victory.
Philadelphia enters this series after earning its five win in six games, 10-5 over San Diego on Thursday. The Phillies top four hitters - Cesar Hernandez , Jimmy Rollins , Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz - were a combined 9 for 13 with eight RBIs and played a significant role in a six-run first.
"Big offensive night," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "The top four guys in the lineup, there was a lot of action up there with some big hits."
Philadelphia will try to keep rolling by ending a 4-17 stretch on the road. The Phillies, however, have lost seven of eight in Washington and were swept in their most recent visit Aug. 9-11
Span went 5 for 14 (.357) in that series and is batting .375 (9 for 24) in his last six matchups with Philadelphia. The outfielder, though, is just 2 for 12 (.167) against Kendrick this season.
Rollins, one homer shy of becoming the 10th player with at least 200 homers and 300 steals, is 2 for 18 (.111) with seven strikeouts lifetime against Strasburg but one of those hits left the park.
|August 30, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right Achilles|
|August 28, 2013||Cody Asche||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 26, 2013||Casper Wells||15-Day DL||Vision complications|
|August 17, 2013||Michael Young||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left ankle|
|August 15, 2013||John Lannan||60-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|August 14, 2013||John Lannan||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|September 08, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left hip soreness|
|August 22, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 17, 2013||Taylor Jordan||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 13, 2013||Wilson Ramos||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|August 11, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Right knee|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Nationals have relied heavily on the home run during their winning streak.
On Friday, they sprinkled in three key hits that didn't leave the infield and some sparkling defense.
Wilson Ramos homered and drove in three runs, Ross Ohlendorf pitched five innings in place of Stephen Strasburg , and the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 for their seventh straight victory.
Four Washington runs came on infield singles and Bryce Harper threw out two Phillies at second base as the Nationals moved within 4 1/2 games of Cincinnati for the final NL wild card.
"We're getting a few breaks now," manager Davey Johnson said.
Overcoming adversity, too.
Strasburg was scratched after experiencing forearm tightness during a throwing session Thursday in New York. Ohlendorf (4-0), who recently moved to the bullpen, stepped in and survived a shaky first inning to allow a run on five hits over five innings.
"He made the pitches. Great effort," Johnson said.
Ian Desmond had two hits and two RBIs, and Ryan Zimmerman (3 for 4) hit a solo homer and scored three runs for Washington. Denard Span singled, extending his hitting streak to 24 games.
Kyle Kendrick (10-13) was charged with six runs on eight hits.
"I didn't give us a chance to win, I didn't pitch deep into the game," Kendrick said. "It's been a rough second half."
Kendrick has a 6.91 ERA since the All-Star break and hasn't won since August 6.
Johnson said Strasburg will rest for a few days and is slated to start Sept. 19 against Miami.
"It's not down where they did the Tommy John (surgery in 2010)," Johnson said before the game. "It's on the soft tissue on the top side of the forearm."
The Nationals have clubbed 15 homers in their last five games. Zimmerman has nine of his 24 home runs in his last 11 games, while Ramos has four in his last six.
Carlos Ruiz and Cody Asche had two hits apiece for Philadelphia, which scored first.
Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a walk. With one out, Chase Utley singled him to third. Ruiz followed with an RBI single, but Ohlendorf struck out Darin Ruf and Asche to end the inning.
"The strikeouts were big to get out of the inning," Ohlendorf said. "I had a really good fastball with a lot of life on it. I was getting some swings and misses with it, a lot of popups."
Zimmerman singled in the bottom of the first. After Jayson Werth walked, Zimmerman took third on Harper's fly to right and scored on Desmond's infield single.
Ramos led off the second with his 14th home run on a line drive into the visitor's bullpen.
Zimmerman made it 3-1 when he sent Kendrick's 0-2 sinker into the same bullpen to start the third.
Freddy Galvis led off the Phillies' fourth with a hit to left. Galvis tried for a double and barely beat Harper's throw, but Steve Lombardozzi 's tag pushed his hand off the bag and he was called out.
"He's one of the better ones for sure," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. "His speed getting to balls, whether they're in the gap or down the line. And then his arm strength and his accuracy is some of the best you'll see."
Then in the sixth, Harper picked up his second assist and 12th of the season when he threw out Ruiz trying for a double.
"I get fired up because it doesn't happen often, but it's an adrenalin rush throwing guys out," Harper said.
The Nationals chased Kendrick in the fifth. Desmond picked up his second infield single, this time with the bases loaded, to make it 4-1. With two outs and a 3-2 count, Ramos hit a hard grounder off the foot of reliever Luis Garcia . The ball deflected up into the air for an infield single as two runs scored.
"Ramos hit the ball of the pitcher's foot and it went about three stories high," Johnson said. "Nobody knew where it was and Bryce was running hard, that was great."
NOTES: Domonic Brown (heel) pinch hit for Philadelphia in the ninth, his first appearance since Sept. 1st. Asche snapped an 0-for-10 skid with his single in the sixth. . The Nationals named outfielder Billy Burns their Minor League Player of the Year and right hander Taylor Jordan Minor League Pitcher of the Year. . Gio Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31) opposes Cole Hamels (7-13, 3.45) on Saturday. . Before the game, the Nationals held a ceremony to honor the victims and first responders of Sept. 11, 2001.