The NL East rivals look to improve their postseason chances when they continue a big three-game series at RFK Stadium.
The Phillies beat the Nationals 7-1 in the series opener Friday. Philadelphia, which has won three in a row, leads the NL wild-card race by a half-game over Houston. The struggling Nationals are four games back.
“This is a big month for us. We’re having fun,” said Philadelphia’s David Bell, who hit the first grand slam of his career Friday. “It’s like playing in the playoffs every game.”
Bell’s slam was his first in 127 career at-bats with the bases loaded—the longest such drought among current players. Tampa Bay’s Alex Gonzalez now has the most at-bats with the bases loaded without a grand slam (112) among active players.
The Nationals continued to struggle offensively at home. They have managed just one run and 11 hits over their past three games at RFK and have averaged just 2.6 runs in their past 20 at home.
“I’m very surprised about the attitude and the stuff that’s happening. The willingness to give it all you’ve got is just not there,” outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. “We need to go out with more willingness, more heart, more effort.”
Wilkerson singled in a run in the second inning, ending Washington’s home scoreless drought at 22 innings. The Nationals split a four-game series with the Braves before this series.
“We’ve got to realize what we’re playing for,” Wilkerson said. “Now’s the time to want it.”
Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2005 draft, was called up on Thursday to make his major league debut. He went 1-for-3 with a double.
“I’d rather go 0-for-3 with a win,” said Zimmerman, who replaced Vinny Castilla at third base in the fourth inning.