The second-place Tigers (40-29) are one game back of AL Central-leading Cleveland, and have a two-game lead over Oakland in the wild card race. They won Monday’s series opener 9-8, but it was hardly a pretty victory for a team with playoff aspirations against the NL’s second-worst team.
Detroit led 9-1 after five innings and withstood a four-run sixth and a three-run ninth-inning rally to improve to 9-4 in interleague games.
“We’re trying to hang in there until we get some things straightened out,” manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers’ official Web site.
The Tigers have won five of their last six road games, and own the second-best road record in baseball (22-15).
The Nationals (30-40), meanwhile, have lost five of their last six at RFK Stadium, and own the majors’ third-worst home record (14-20).
Carlos Guillen went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs on Monday, and is 11-for-31 (.355) with four home runs, nine RBIs and 10 runs in his last nine games.
Detroit’s Chad Durbin (5-3, 4.60 ERA) may be making one of his final starts for the immediate future. Durbin has been adequate as the No. 5 starter, but with Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson expected to return from the disabled list, the right-hander’s time may be up.
Rogers has been on the DL all season after having surgery on his left shoulder in March, and is scheduled to make his first start on Friday against Atlanta.
Durbin may have hurt his chances of staying in the rotation on Thursday when he pitched a season-low 3 2-3 innings, allowing eight hits, but managed to only give up two runs in a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee.
“That won’t get in my head at all,” he said of the possible demotion. “If I’m better off in the pen or whatever they see fit, that’s what is going to happen. It’s not my job to think about those scenarios.”
Durbin is seeking his fifth straight road victory. After going 0-1 with a 12.46 ERA in his first two road starts, he is 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA in his last six away from Comerica Park.
Durbin is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in two interleague starts, and this will be his first career game against the Nationals.
Washington has lost three of four after winning five of its previous six.
On Monday, Nationals leadoff hitter Christian Guzman had three hits, including a double and a triple, after going just 2-for-19 (.105) in his previous five games. Despite his slide, Guzman is still batting .397 (27-for-68) with 18 runs scored in his last 16 games.
Jason Simontacchi (4-4, 4.84) tries to win his third straight start for the first time in more than five years for Washington.
Simontacchi gave up one run and nine hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win over Baltimore on Thursday.
“It’s a matter of working ahead and keeping the fastball down,” he told the Nationals’ official Web site. “It has helped me out a lot.”
The right-hander has not won three straight starts since May 21-June 4, 2002, but it won’t be easy getting that third victory at RFK, where he has struggled. Simontacchi, who has never faced the Tigers, is 1-3 in four home starts, posting a 6.88 ERA in losing his last three.