Florida (60-78) at Washington (61-77)

Mostly Clear Currently: Washington, DC, US
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Sep 4, 2007
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The Washington Nationals are doing their best to stay out of the NL East cellar. Continuing to beat the Florida Marlins at RFK Stadium should help.

The Nationals look to win their fourth straight when they play the second game of a three-game series against the last-place Marlins on Tuesday.

Washington (61-77) defeated Florida 6-3 on Monday to move into fourth place in the division, one game ahead of the Marlins (60-78), who took the final two games of a set against Philadelphia prior to this series.

“I think it means a lot to the mindset of this team, from the ownership on down,” Sunday’s winning pitcher Jason Bergmann said. “No one wants to finish in last, especially where people wrote us off at the beginning of the year.”

The Nationals are 5-2 against the Marlins at RFK this season, including five straight wins.

On Sunday, Washington received a quality start from Bergmann and a two-run homer from Wily Mo Pena to win its third in a row after a seven-game losing streak.

Pena has five homers in 49 at-bats since being acquired from Boston after managing only five in 156 at-bats with the Red Sox. He’s 3-for-10 against Florida’s struggling ace Dontrelle Willis, who will start Tuesday.

Willis (8-14, 5.12 ERA), in the midst of the worst season of his five-year career, allowed six runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-4 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday.

The left-hander is 1-11 in his last 17 starts.

“I don’t want to say there is any added pressure or anything like that, but you definitely want to help the cause and do whatever you can to get it rolling,” Willis told the Marlins’ official Web site.

Willis is 10-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 16 starts against the Nationals franchise and 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in two starts in 2007. The most recent was a 14-10 loss July 13, when he gave up eight runs in 3 2-3 innings.

Washington will counter with Shawn Hill (3-3, 2.87), who makes his fifth start since a three-month stint on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He doesn’t have a decision in that span.

Hill allowed six earned runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-9 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday, the first time he’s given up more than three runs in a game this season.

“I was fighting to get where I wanted to,” Hill told the Nationals’ Web site. “It was basically a battle the whole day.”

The right-hander will make his fourth start of the season and career against Florida. He’s 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA against the Marlins.

Mike Jacobs homered and Hanley Ramirez had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for Florida on Sunday. Ramirez, among the NL leaders with a .333 average, is batting .340 (16-for-47) during the streak but is 0-for-5 lifetime against Hill.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Willis MIL vs. S. Hill DET
10-15 Record 4-5
5.17 ERA 3.42
146 K 65
87 BB 25
1.60 WHIP 1.14


Tuesday, Sep 4