Washington (21-32) at Philadelphia (27-24)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Wed May 31, 2006
  • TV: MASN, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Washington starter Livan Hernandez hopes he’s finally returning to the form that has seen him average nearly 14 wins a year since 2000.

He’ll look to win his third straight start when the Nationals wrap up a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Hernandez (3-5, 5.35 ERA) gave up three runs and six hits over seven innings of Friday’s 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Five days earlier, he limited Baltimore to a run and six hits through seven innings in a 3-1 win.

Before that, the Cuban-born right-hander had gone 0-4 in his previous seven starts, his longest stretch without a victory since 1999.

Hernandez was 12-2 with a 3.32 ERA on July 1, earning a spot on the National League All-Star team. However, he was bothered by a buildup of fluid in his right knee that led to offseason surgery and went 3-8 to close out the season. Before his two straight wins, Hernandez had just one victory in 14 starts dating back September.

“I think (I’m the old Hernandez), but I have to be ready for the next outing,” said Hernandez, who did not walk a batter for the first time this season in Friday’s outing. “I don’t want to be cocky. I knew I was going to pitch better than I pitched before. I try to work every day and be ready for the next start.”

Hernandez is 9-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 22 career starts against the Phillies.

Cory Lidle (4-4, 4.92), meanwhile, looks to continue his dominance over the Nationals franchise. Lidle is 6-1 with a 2.97 ERA in 11 career appearances, including eight starts. He also has a career-best six wins against Atlanta and the New York Yankees.

The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings of Philadelphia’s 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Milwaukee on Friday. He also walked a season-high five batters.

“He was off with his command and the hitters worked the count off him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Nationals (21-32) have lost three of four since a season-high four-game winning streak, including Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat. Former Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd hit a two-run homer for Washington, which has scored just five runs in its last three losses.

The Nationals, who scored 27 runs during their winning streak, had just three hits.

“For the rest of this road trip, and pretty much for the rest of this season, we have to find a way to win, 2-1, sometimes,” shortstop Royce Clayton said. “We have to find a way to win the low-scoring ballgames, because we are not always going to throw up seven runs. Until we do, we are going to have a tough time.

“I can’t remember the last time we won one that was (low-scoring).”

Philadelphia (27-24) has won three straight, scoring 21 runs during their winning streak to move into second place in the NL East, four games behind division-leading New York.

First baseman Ryan Howard went 0-for-3 and had his streak of games with an RBI end at nine.

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Starting Pitchers

L. Hernandez Mil vs. C. Lidle NYY
13-13 Record 12-10
4.83 ERA 4.85
128 K 130
78 BB 58
1.50 WHIP 1.40