The Washington Nationals have been making RFK Stadium a tough place for opponents to play.
Having not dropped a series there in nearly a month, they look to continue that home success when they open a three-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.
Washington (48-60) has won a season-high five straight games at RFK, outscoring teams 26-8 while batting .314 and posting a 1.60 ERA. The Nationals opened their current six-game homestand with a three-game sweep of Cincinnati.
Washington took Thursday’s finale 7-3 to improve to 10-2 in its last 12 games at RFK and win its fourth series in a row there. Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Ronnie Belliard doubled twice and scored three runs and Dmitri Young added two RBI singles.
“This is the growth of our team. They call it ‘rebuilding,’ not giving us much of a chance,” said Young, who’s batting .389 at home compared to .279 on the road. “But we never listen to those people. We listen to our manager, and he believes we have a chance.”
The Nationals will be trying to match a season-high four-game winning streak, last accomplished May 22-25. The May 25th victory came at St. Louis, and Washington went on to take two of three in that series.
St. Louis (50-55) will be trying to avoid losing three straight for the first time since June 7-9 after dropping the final two contests of its three-game set with Pittsburgh. The Cardinals fell 5-4 in 11 innings Thursday, stranding 11 men on base and going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“We just lost a game we should’ve won,” manager Tony La Russa said.
St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who hit his 24th home run Thursday, is 8-for-12 versus the Nationals this season. He’s 11-for-24 with a homer and five doubles in his career against Tim Redding (1-2, 2.64 ERA), who will take the ball for Washington on Friday.
The right-hander was called up from Triple-A Columbus on July 3 and has held opponents to three runs or fewer in all five of his starts, lasting at least five innings in each of them.
He limited the New York Mets to one run and five hits over six innings Saturday, not factoring in the decision in a 3-1 defeat. Redding walked four and matched a career-high with eight strikeouts in his fourth straight quality start.
“He threw strike one the whole day and had some good breaking balls the whole day,” manager Manny Acta told the Nationals’ official Web site. “He lost his command a little bit in the fourth inning. He just gave us a great outing.”
Redding is 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA in 11 games versus the Cardinals - tying him for his most losses against any opponent - but hasn’t faced them since 2005 when he was with San Diego.
Kip Wells (4-13, 5.72) tries to avoid becoming the NL’s first 14-game loser when he takes the mound for St. Louis. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.79 ERA in four starts since a brief stint in the bullpen.
He gave up five runs and 11 hits over five innings Sunday, but didn’t get the win in a 9-5 victory over Milwaukee. Wells walked two and struck out seven.
The 30-year-old veteran snapped an eight-game road losing streak in his last start away from home July 18, holding Florida to two hits in eight innings of a 6-0 win. He is 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA in six starts versus the Nationals, but hasn’t faced them since 2005 while with Pittsburgh.