Now that the Nationals have ended their longest losing streak since moving to Washington, they’ll go for their first series win of the season.
The Nationals try for back-to-back victories when they continue a three-game series with the Florida Marlins on Saturday at RFK Memorial Stadium.
Washington (10-25) was outscored 37-18 during an eight-game losing streak, their longest since a skid of the same length April 11-19, 2004, when they were the Montreal Expos.
On Friday, the Nationals broke out with one of their best all-around games of the season, beating the Marlins 6-0.
They recorded 15 hits, with each starting position player getting at least one, and held the high-scoring Marlins (16-19) to just four. Outfielder Ryan Church went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to boost his batting average to .360 against the Marlins this season, including five doubles, a homer and seven RBIs. He helped Washington, which owns the worst record in the majors, score its most runs since a 12-6 defeat to Florida on April 22.
On the down side for the Nationals, starter Shawn Hill threw five no-hit innings before leaving with a sore right elbow and is “99 percent sure” he’ll have to go on the disabled list.
The Nationals have won consecutive games just twice this season - both in April - and have yet to defeat the same opponent twice in a row.
The Marlins have won the last five series between the NL East rivals, including the first two of 2007, but are on the verge of ending that streak after being shut out for the first time this season. They tied their season high with three errors and will look for a better effort Saturday with Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 7.30 ERA) on the mound.
The right-hander is trying to rebound from his worst outing of the season. He gave up six runs and 10 hits over six innings - all season highs - in a 6-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
“I made pitches up, and they made me pay,” Nolasco said. “It puts pressure on the guys when I get us down early.”
Nolasco is 3-1 with a 4.82 ERA in five career games versus the Nationals. He has won his last two starts against them, allowing only three earned runs through 13 1-3 innings.
Washington will counter with Matt Chico (2-4, 6.03), who is trying to avoid his third straight defeat. The rookie left-hander allowed three runs and eight hits over seven innings while striking out five on Monday, but didn’t get any support in a 3-0 loss to Milwaukee.
He threw 68 of his 93 pitches for strikes in his longest start of the season.
“I think he did a great job,” manager Manny Acta told the Nationals’ official Web site. “That’s what we want to see. We want to see progress in young kids like him. He has been inconsistent this year, but he showed today that he can handle it (in the big leagues).”
Chico won his last two home starts while allowing three runs through 10 1-3 innings. He is 0-1 with an 11.42 ERA in two career starts versus the Marlins, including his major league debut on April 4 when he gave up six runs and eight hits, including three homers, over four innings, but did not record a decision in Washington’s 7-6 victory.