Washington (54-68) at Philadelphia (59-62)

Fair Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Aug 19, 2006
  • TV: MASN, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Alfonso Soriano has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable season for the Washington Nationals.

Soriano looks to stay hot at the plate when the last-place Nationals (54-68) continue their three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies (59-62) at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.

Soriano went 4-for-6 with a leadoff homer, two runs and a stolen base in the Nationals’ 6-4 win on Friday. The steal was his 30th of the season, making him just the third player in major league history to have at least four seasons of 30 homers and 30 stolen bases.

Bobby and Barry Bonds each reached 30 steals and 30 homers five times. Soriano’s home run was his 39th, matching the career high he set with the New York Yankees in 2002.

“It is good, but I’m working hard to get better in the field and to make my team better,” Soriano said. “So whatever number that I put (up) this year, maybe I want to enjoy after the season, but not now. It is more important for me to win and make the team better.”

With one more homer and one more assist, Soriano—who was initially reluctant to make the move from second base to the outfield before this year— will become the first player ever to have 40 homers, 30 steals and 20 outfield assists in a season.

“He’s an exciting player,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

Rookie Ryan Zimmerman also homered and drove in a career-high five runs Friday for Washington, which has won three of four.

Mike Lieberthal homered and drove in three runs for the Phillies, who have lost two straight since taking three in a row from the NL East-leading New York Mets. Philadelphia remained 2 1/2 games behind Cincinnati, which leads the NL wild-card race.

Rookie Cole Hamels (5-6, 4.50 ERA) will look to get the Phillies back on track Saturday. He allowed four hits in a career-high eight innings of Monday’s 13-0 win over Pedro Martinez and the Mets.

The 22-year-old left-hander, who struck out nine and walked none, is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his last four starts.

“Everything was working well tonight,” he said. “Throwing my curveball for strikes was big for me.”

Hamels faced Washington on June 11, allowing four runs in five innings of a 6-0 loss.

“He’s going to be a very good pitcher,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “The more experience he gets, the better he’ll get. I like everything about him.”

Washington will counter with Ramon Ortiz (9-10, 4.88), who allowed seven runs and nine hits—including two homers—in 4 2-3 innings of Monday’s 10-4 loss to Atlanta. He had allowed just three earned runs in 12 2-3 innings in his previous two outings, both wins.

“He didn’t have his good stuff tonight,” Robinson said. “He didn’t get ahead of hitters so he could mix up his pitches and be able to be effective.”

Ortiz made his only career start against Philadelphia on May 12, 2005, while with Cincinnati, and gave up three runs in five innings of a 7-5 win.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Ortiz Tor vs. C. Hamels Tex
11-16 Record 9-8
5.57 ERA 4.08
104 K 145
64 BB 48
1.54 WHIP 1.25

Scoreboard

Saturday, Aug 19