Rowand tries to lead the Phillies to a season high-tying fifth straight victory when they continue a three-game series with the Nationals on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia (51-48) is outscoring opponents 32-10 and batting .324 with seven homers, 10 doubles and two triples during its four-game win streak. Rowand has fueled that surge, and hit a homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday to lift the Phillies to a 4-3 win over Washington (42-57).
He finished 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs and threw out a runner at the plate. Rowand, a free agent after this season, is batting .458 (22-for-48) with three homers, 11 doubles and 12 RBIs over the last 11 games.
The All-Star is a .393 career hitter versus the Nationals - his third-best mark against any team - and is batting .459 (17-for-37) during a nine-game hitting streak against them. His .330 overall average this season is a career best.
“We’re striving to win this division,” said Rowand, whose team trails NL East-leading New York by five games and second-place Atlanta by two.
The Phillies look to match their season-high five-game winning streak, set April 21-25, when they hand the ball to Cole Hamels (11-5, 3.69 ERA). The left-hander is trying to bounce back from a hard-luck 1-0 defeat in San Diego on Thursday, when he allowed one run and a season low-tying two hits over seven innings.
“I knew that I had to execute,” said Hamels, winner of five of his last six home starts. “You think you give up one run and you have a good chance to win.”
Hamels is third in the NL with 129 strikeouts, but his pace has slowed recently, as he’s totaled only five in his last two games. The All-Star pitcher is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in five starts against the Nats, including a 4-2 defeat on April 26 when he gave up four runs over 5 1-3 innings.
Washington is 18-28 away from RFK Stadium with losses in eight of its last 10 road games, scoring three runs or fewer in all but one of those contests. Brian Schneider hit a three-run double Tuesday, but the Nationals fell for just the second time in the last six games.
Washington will hand the ball to Matt Chico (4-6, 4.65), who will make his first career start versus the Phillies. The rookie left-hander has earned just three decisions in his last 11 outings, going 1-2 with a 4.10 ERA.
He gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings in a 5-4, 10-inning win over Colorado last Wednesday. Chico allowed two-run homers in the first and fourth innings, both of which followed leadoff walks.
“He had that first inning and that fourth inning where he pitched like an unpolished minor league kid, walking guys and unable to put away a guy 0-2,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “And then he gives us four outstanding innings and saved our bullpen real good.”
Chico hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates, receiving more than three runs of support in just three of his 20 starts this season. He has struggled on the road, going 0-5 with a 4.66 ERA in nine starts.