The Washington Nationals franchise hasn’t been shut out in three straight games since the days of the Montreal Expos.
The struggling Nationals look to prevent that from happening while trying to avoid a third consecutive loss as they open a three-game home set with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
Washington (24-34) lost 5-0 to Arizona on Sunday to conclude a 2-4 road trip and extend its scoreless streak to 18 innings. The Nationals fell 4-0 to the Diamondbacks on Saturday.
“I’m embarrassed,” second baseman Felipe Lopez told the Nationals’ official Web site.
The Nationals, last in the majors with a .231 batting average, haven’t been held without a run in three straight games since the Expos failed to score in a series against Florida from April 13-15, 2004.
After beating Arizona 7-4 on Friday, Washington has 10 hits in two games.
“We have to continue to stay positive and keep working as hard as we can,” hitting coach Lenny Harris said. “The morale is not getting down.”
Though Washington was swept in a three-game set at St. Louis from April 4-6, it has won four in a row at home over the Cardinals, who are 3-6 all-time against the Nationals on the road.
Washington won’t have third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in this series after he was placed on the disabled list Monday with a small tear in his left shoulder. Zimmerman, who went 6-for-13 against St. Louis in April, missed the team’s last seven games.
Outfielder Lastings Milledge, who had three hits earlier versus St. Louis, is 10-for-33 with two homers and four RBIs in his last nine games.
Washington might not have an easy time producing runs with Kyle Lohse (5-2, 4.02 ERA) on the mound for St. Louis on Tuesday.
Lohse allowed a run and five hits in six innings of a 3-2 win over Houston on Thursday. The right-hander, who’s allowed three earned runs over his last 18 innings, enjoyed one of his better starts of 2008 in a 3-0 win over Washington on April 6.
In that contest, he scattered four hits in seven innings and is 1-1 with a 6.15 ERA in five starts versus the Nationals franchise.
St. Louis (34-25) is coming off a 4-3 homestand, but blew a four-run lead and lost 5-4 to Pittsburgh on Monday. Starter Adam Wainwright gave up a grand slam to Jason Michaels in the seventh inning and a run in the eighth for St. Louis, which begins a nine-game road trip Tuesday night.
“It’s a really difficult game to lose for us,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said
Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick each had two hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals. Pujols, batting .471 (8-for-17) with two home runs and five RBIs in his last five contests, is 14-for-21 with five homers and 15 RBIs versus Washington’s scheduled Tuesday starter Odalis Perez.
Perez (2-4, 4.14 ERA) tries to post consecutive victories for the first time this season when he takes the ball. Hours after undergoing a root canal, Perez allowed three runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 win at San Diego on Wednesday.
“He showed us a lot going out there and throwing,” Washington manager Manny Acta said.
The left-hander is 3-4 with an 8.53 ERA against St. Louis and allowed five runs in four innings of a 5-4 road loss to the Cardinals on April 4.