Washington (53-64) at Arizona (67-51)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 96° F
  • Game info: 4:40 pm EDT Sun Aug 12, 2007
  • TV: MASN2, KTVK
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Arizona Diamondbacks have the largest lead among the three first-place clubs in the National League. Dominating the Washington Nationals is one reason why.

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks look to sweep the season series from the Nationals when they square off on Sunday for the final time this year.

Arizona (67-51) was tied with Colorado for third place in the NL West, 4 1/2 games behind then division-leading San Diego on July 20. Since then, the Diamondbacks have won 17 of 20 and now have a four-game lead over the Padres.

Washington (53-64) also had been playing well recently - entering this series having won eight of 10 overall - but has had no success against Arizona this season. The Diamondbacks swept a four-game series in Washington from April 5-8, and have outscored the Nationals 33-10 in their six wins.

The only other time the 10-year-old Arizona franchise swept and NL opponent was in 2002 when it won all six games over Cincinnati.

The Diamondbacks clinched their seventh straight series win with a 1-0 victory on Saturday. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb pitched a five-hitter for his second complete-game shutout in a row, extending his scoreless inning streak to a club-record 33 innings.

“The last two games he’s had as good a sinker as we’ve seen since he’s been here,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

Justin Upton tripled for the third time in five games to drive in Eric Byrnes with the game’s only run. Since being called up from Double-A on Aug. 2, seven of the 19-year-old Upton’s nine hits have been for extra bases.

While the Diamondbacks have been red-hot lately, Micah Owings (5-6, 4.96 ERA) hasn’t won since June 20, going 0-5 with a 6.37 ERA in nine games - eight starts - for Arizona. On Tuesday, he gave up four runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Pittsburgh.

“I feel good,” Owings told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “I can’t explain it. It’s just one of those things I’ve just got to keep fighting. It’s hard to say. It’s real tough to win one right now, but I can’t get caught up in the wins and losses, personally. As long as the team keeps winning, that’s all that matters.”

The right-hander won his major league debut against the Nationals on April 6, allowing one hit in five shutout innings with six strikeouts during a 7-1 victory.

The Diamondbacks have won 10 of their last 12 at Chase Field, and have the NL’s second-best home record at 37-22.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are 25-35 on the road but have not been swept in a three-game series away from RFK Stadium since June 25-27 at Atlanta.

Mike Bacsik (5-6, 4.47) takes the mound Sunday for the first time since giving up Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 756th career home run on Tuesday.

Though Bacsik cemented his name in baseball history, Washington still hung on to beat San Francisco 8-5. Bacsik did not factor in the decision, as he gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings.

“You either have to be a really special player to be remembered in this game or part of a special moment,” said Bacsik, who will make his first career start against Arizona. “I didn’t want to give up the home run but, I’m lucky to be part of a really special moment in sports history.”

The left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five games since the All-Star break with the Nationals winning each of those games.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Bacsik Was vs. M. Owings Mia
5-8 Record 8-8
5.11 ERA 4.30
45 K 106
29 BB 50
1.44 WHIP 1.28

Scoreboard

Sunday, Aug 12