Fresh off a sweep of the NL East leaders, the Philadelphia Phillies hope to take advantage of a home series against the club with the worst record in baseball.
The Phillies look to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Monday night when they open a three-game set with the Washington Nationals.
Philadelphia (9-8) capped a three-game sweep at division-leading Florida on Sunday with a 13-2 victory behind 12 hits. The reigning World Series champion’s season-high scoring output also matched its total from the first two games of the series, having used ninth-inning rallies to win both.
“When you blend the talent and the hustle like we did all weekend, good things are going to happen,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Manuel’s team has won five of seven to move above .500 for only the second time in 2009. The Phillies were 4-3 before losing 8-2 at Washington (4-13) on April 16 to settle for a split in the rain-shorted, two-game series.
Philadelphia has won 13 of the last 18 meetings with the Nationals, including a three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park from Sept. 26-28. However, the Phillies are 3-6 at home this season with a .248 batting average.
Manuel will give the ball to Joe Blanton (0-2, 7.31 ERA), who took the loss on April 16 after allowing three runs and eight hits - one homer - with five strikeouts and a walk in six innings. The right-hander followed that performance with the same exact line in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
“You can sense you will get it going,” Blanton told the team’s official Web site. “It’s like that car that won’t quite start. It just needs a kick to get going.”
Blanton’s consecutive losses have come after he went 6-0 in his first 17 starts with the Phillies, including 2-0 in three playoff outings, after being acquired from Oakland in a four-player trade July 17. That record included a win over Washington on Sept. 26, when he allowed four runs - one earned - and five hits in six innings.
The Nationals are at the bottom of the NL East and have two fewer wins than any other team in the majors. However, they’re looking to build on Sunday’s 8-1 road win over the New York Mets, avoiding a three-game sweep.
The victory came behind an impressive outing from Justin Zimmermann, who allowed one run and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. Zimmermann and fellow rookie Shairon Martis - Monday’s scheduled starter - have combined to win all four games for Washington.
“It feels great. We know that we’re better than our record shows,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “We needed a game like this.”
Martis (2-0, 4.11) got the victory opposite Blanton on April 16 in his first career start against Philadelphia, surrendering two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The 22-year-old right-hander overcame a rough start to earn another win in a 4-3 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday. He allowed three runs and two hits with two walks in the first inning before settling down and scattering four hits in the next five.
“Other than that first inning, he came back and pitched a great game,” Acta told the team’s official Web site. “He could have continued to fall behind in the count and give up a bunch of runs. But he battled it out. He just kept us in the game and gave us a quality start.”
Martis is 3-0 with a 4.30 ERA in his last five games - four starts - dating to a loss to the New York Mets on Sept. 17.