(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Phillies look to reach the .500 mark for
the first time since mid-April on Sunday afternoon, when they send ace Cole
Hamels to the mound against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.
The Phillies drew even in this three-game series with Saturday's 5-3 victory,
getting the go-ahead RBI from Delmon Young in the eighth inning. Domonic Brown
added an insurance RBI in the frame after hitting his team-leading ninth home
run of the season earlier in the game.
Brown went back-to-back with Erik Kratz in the second inning and has driven in
a run in five straight and in 10 of his last 13 games. His offense helped the
Phillies win for the eighth time in their last 12 contests and improve to
24-25 on the season. The Phils are a game back of Washington for second place
in the NL East and are looking to reach the .500 mark for the first time since
they were 6-6 on April 14.
"This is a big series for us. Every one is big, but this one especially since
we're playing the Nationals," said Brown. "We're going out, working hard and
fighting. We're just having fun out there."
Adam LaRoche homered and drove in two runs, while Denard Span added three
hits, an RBI and run scored as the Nationals suffered their fifth loss in
"We left some guys on base, no doubt. We had some opportunities to score. They
had some big two-out runs, and big two-out hits. We didn't," said LaRoche.
Now each club will send out their respective ace for this rubber match, though
Hamels and Strasburg have combined for just three victories this season thanks
to some tough luck.
Hamels has lost four straight starts since picking up his first and only win
of the season on April 28. He is 1-7 in 10 starts this year with a 4.45 earned
run average, but has allowed three runs or fewer in seven of those games.
However, the Phillies have plated more than three runs in just four of his
Frustration boiled over for the left-hander last Monday in Miami, where he
dropped a 5-1 decision despite giving up just a pair of runs on seven hits
without a walk over six innings. Hamels struck out a season-high 10 and came
out of the game for a pinch-hitter in the seventh with a runner on first and
third and only one out. Philadelphia did not score, however, and Hamels did
not talk to the media afterwards.
"He needs some runs," Phils manager Charlie Manuel told his team's website of
Hamels. "He needs to pitch with a lead sometime and have room to breathe and
room if he makes a mistake."
The 29-year-old could turn things around today as he is 13-5 in his career
versus the Nationals with a 2.57 ERA in 24 starts.
Strasburg, meanwhile, is 2-5 in his 10 starts even though he is pitching to a
2.66 ERA. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in eight of those outings
and has also been charged with nine unearned runs this season.
The 24-year-old righty snapped a seven-start winless streak by beating San
Diego on May 16, then did not get a decision at San Francisco on Tuesday.
Strasburg only allowed one run and fanned seven over seven innings.
Unlike Hamels, Strasburg has struggled against today's opponent. He is 0-1 in
three career starts versus the Phillies with a 6.28 ERA, having yielded 10
runs over 14 1/3 frames with 13 strikeouts.
The Phillies and Nationals split 18 meetings a season ago, but Washington has
won five of the last seven in this series.
The Sports Network