The Washington Nationals still have one of the worst records in baseball, but it hasn’t shown lately.
The Nationals look to win their third straight series for the first time in nearly two years when they wrap up their four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Washington (13-18) bounced back from Friday’s 11-4 loss to the Pirates by pounding out a season-high 14 hits in Saturday’s 9-8 victory.
“It’s always nice to score that many runs when you give up as many as we did,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said.
After being just 6-16 on April 23, Washington has won seven of nine, and its last three victories have all come by one run.
The Nationals, who took two of three from the Chicago Cubs last weekend before sweeping a two-game set over Atlanta, have not won three consecutive series since June 2-11, 2006.
On Saturday, Cristian Guzman went 4-for-5 and tied a career high with six RBIs, including a tiebreaking three-run double in the sixth inning. Guzman, who also had six RBIs on June 24, 2001 for Minnesota, had just two RBIs in his previous 20 games combined.
Leadoff hitter Felipe Lopez scored three times and had two hits on Saturday, his third multihit game in his last four.
Tim Redding (3-2, 3.55 ERA) takes the mound Sunday looking to lead the Nationals to the series victory. Washington has won four of Redding’s six starts this season.
The right-hander gave up two runs and four hits in six innings of a 6-3 win over Atlanta on Tuesday, but was not a factor in the decision.
Redding has not faced the Pirates since April 10, 2005, when he gave up four runs - all unearned - and five hits in five innings of a 6-3 loss for San Diego. He is 1-2 with a 3.83 ERA in nine career starts versus Pittsburgh.
The Pirates (12-18) have lost six of nine, and eight of 10 on the road. Their offense has been coming around, though, as they had 14 hits Saturday after getting 12 in Friday’s win.
Jose Bautista went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs on Saturday, and has three home runs and seven RBIs in the last two games.
Ian Snell (2-1, 4.93) looks to get out of his little funk when he takes the ball in the series finale.
Snell has given up eight runs and nine walks in 10 1-3 innings in his last two starts after allowing 12 runs and five walks in 24 1-3 innings over his first four outings of the season. He also has just three strikeouts in his last two games after striking out 20 in his first four.
On Tuesday, the right-hander yielded four runs, five hits and five walks in a season-low 4 1-3 innings in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the New York Mets.
“I don’t blame nobody but myself. I was rushing myself. I just don’t feel like I’m in it right now. I gotta get back into my groove I was in last year,” said Snell, who had 177 strikeouts to just 68 walks in 208 innings in 2007.
Snell was solid in two starts against the Nationals last season, allowing four runs, three walks and striking out 12 in 14 innings. He has yet to record a decision in three career starts versus Washington, posting a 3.79 ERA in those games.