Pat Burrell saved Philadelphia’s struggling lineup over the weekend. The Phillies, though, haven’t needed much production from him to put together big games at the plate versus the Washington Nationals.
Burrell looks to help the Phillies saddle the Nationals with their 11th straight loss when the teams open a three-game series Tuesday night.
Philadelphia (66-58) has struggled terribly at the plate in recent weeks, and it has dropped 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. The Phillies have hit .197 with 32 runs scored in their last 11 games, losing seven times during that span.
But Philadelphia won two of three games versus San Diego over the weekend, thanks to timely hits from Burrell.
Burrell hit his 29th homer of the season on Sunday night, a solo shot in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win over the Padres. He also homered on Friday night in the Phillies’ 1-0 win over San Diego.
“This team will hit because we’ve all done it before,” Burrell said. “But until we pick it up, we’ll have to make sure we are at least getting the clutch hits.”
The slugging left fielder is batting .219 (7-for-32) with no homers against Washington this season, but that hasn’t stopped Philadelphia’s lineup from being productive. The Phillies have hit .275 with 12 home runs and 16 doubles in nine games against the major league-worst Nationals (44-81).
Philadelphia has won six of those matchups, scoring eight runs or more in four of them. The Phillies will be facing a Nationals pitching staff which has a 6.20 ERA with 17 homers allowed during the team’s 10-game skid, its worst since moving to Washington before the 2005 season.
Poor hitting also has plagued the Nationals during their skid, getting shut out three times and scoring a total of 22 runs while batting .214. They’ll now face Phillies starter Joe Blanton (1-0, 4.00 ERA).
Blanton is coming off one of his worst starts since joining Philadelphia, giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings as the Phillies lost 7-6 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night. It was his fifth start since being acquired in a trade with Oakland.
The right-hander lost his only career start versus Washington, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings for Oakland in a 4-3 defeat on June 9, 2005.
The Nationals will counter with Jason Bergmann (2-9, 4.51 ERA), who had his worst start of the season Wednesday night. He gave up 10 runs - six earned - and eight hits while walking six in three innings as Washington lost 12-0 to the New York Mets.
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.80 ERA in seven starts and three relief appearances against Philadelphia.
Bergmann will be trying to help the Nationals franchise snap its longest losing streak since the Montreal Expos dropped 11 in a row from June 23-July 4, 1991. Washington must finish 19-18 to avoid the franchise’s first 100-loss season since Montreal went 55-107 in 1976.
“They’re trying. You just got to keep on being positive with them, bring them back to where they were before,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “I don’t want to lose. Obviously, it’s not easy. But the effort, it’s there. Guys want to catch the ball, they want to hit the ball, they want to throw strikes. They’re just not doing it right now.”
The Nationals went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in a 7-2 loss to Colorado on Sunday, marking the eighth time they have scored three runs or less during their skid.
Lastings Milledge, though, continues to be a bright spot for Washington, going 2-for-4. He is batting .366 (26-for-71) with five home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 18 games.
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