It’s been more than 10 years since the Washington Nationals franchise has been swept in its first two series of the season.
The Nationals look to avoid that fate and their sixth straight loss when they conclude their three-game set with the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at Turner Field.
After scoring first before losing 6-5 in 10 innings in Friday’s series opener, Washington again led early but fell 5-3 to Atlanta on Saturday.
While the Nationals (0-5) have been more competitive this weekend after being outscored 26-13 in season-opening losses at Florida, they are in danger of starting with six consecutive losses for the first time since 1998, when the club was based in Montreal.
“We’re just getting beat, it’s not for a lack of trying,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “We’ve got to show up ready to win. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“There’s no reason to show panic. I guarantee we’ll not go 0-for-April.”
Washington won’t have an easy time trying to end its skid against talented Atlanta right-hander Jair Jurrjens.
Jurrjens (1-0, 0.00 ERA) looks for another solid outing after allowing four hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings of the Braves’ 4-0 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
“The kid is good,” All-Star third baseman Chipper Jones told the Braves’ official Web site. “He’s just flat-out good. You love his poise out there.”
Jurrjens, who went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA during his 2008 rookie season, is 1-1 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts against Washington.
On Saturday, Kelly Johnson went 3-for-4 with a homer and drove in three runs one night after singling home the game-winner for the Braves (4-1), who have bounced back after blowing a seven-run lead in Wednesday’s 12-11 loss at Philadelphia.
Johnson is 6-for-9 with three runs and four RBIs in his last two games. Jones, 6-for-17 on the season, is batting .571 (12-for-21) with two home runs and 12 RBIs against Washington’s scheduled starter Scott Olsen.
Olsen (0-1, 24.00) allowed eight runs and eight hits in three innings of an 8-3 loss at Florida on Tuesday.
“Olsen made a lot of mistakes,” pitching coach Randy St. Claire told the Nationals’ official Web site.”His fastball was cutting over the plate. His changeup was left up in the zone. You can’t make those mistakes.”
The left-hander is 2-4 with a 6.52 ERA in 10 career starts against Atlanta.
Hitting .435 (10-for-23), Guzman has been a bright spot for the Nationals, who could again be without outfielder Elijah Dukes after he suffered a mild groin strain while trying to throw out Jordan Schafer with the winning run Friday.
“It was a little wet out there,” Acta said. “When Elijah threw the ball, he kind of felt the pain a little bit.”
Dukes is 4-for-11 in four games.