Chicago (35-52) at Washington (44-43)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 6, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Thanks to the struggling Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals are in position for their first three-game winning streak under new manager Davey Johnson.

The Nationals try to accomplish that feat in the third game of a four-game series against the lowly Cubs on Wednesday night.

Washington (44-43) dropped its first three and five of seven under Johnson before winning a pair of one-run games versus Chicago at Nationals Park. Danny Espinosa(notes) was one of four Nationals with two hits as Washington scored twice on Jeff Baker’s(notes) throwing error in the first inning and held on for a 3-2 victory Tuesday.

The Nationals, whose last nine wins have come by one run or in extra innings, are 12-3 in one-run games since June 1.

“I love one-run wins, believe me,” Johnson said. “But every decision you make in one-run ballgames is kind of critical. Once in a while I’d like to have a laugher.”

The Nationals had lost seven straight at home to Chicago but now have a chance to win their first series against the Cubs (35-52) in D.C. since April 25-27, 2008. They could be in good shape if Espinosa stays hot, as the rookie second baseman has hit .421 (8 for 19) in his last five games following a 2-for-17 stretch.

Facing his former team, Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (2-6, 3.77 ERA) takes the ball for the Nationals trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

Though he is 0-4 with a 4.76 ERA in six starts since winning at Florida on May 7, Gorzelanny has allowed one earned run and struck out 16 over 14 innings of his last two. The left-hander surrendered an unearned run and fanned eight in seven innings of a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh on Friday.

Gorzelanny is making his first start against the Cubs since he went 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA for them over the previous one-plus seasons. He is 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts versus Chicago - all with Pittsburgh.

The Cubs have dropped four of five, with three of those defeats decided by one run. Aramis Ramirez(notes) hit a two-run homer Tuesday for Chicago, which has scored 13 runs over the last five games.

“We’ve got to figure out ways to win,” outfielder Marlon Byrd(notes) said. “We can’t think back and go, ‘Oh, we didn’t win because of this.’”

Ramirez has driven in six of those runs over the last five games and hit .396 with eight home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 13. He’s batted .338 with six homers and 19 RBIs in his last 16 games versus Washington but is 2 for 17 against Gorzelanny.

Randy Wells(notes) (1-3, 6.59) looks to avoid a third straight losing start for the Cubs. The right-hander has allowed six runs in each of the last two, the most recent over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the White Sox on Friday.

“I’m not going to hang my head too low,” said Wells, who was on the disabled list from April 8-May 28 with a forearm strain and is 0-3 with a 7.43 ERA in seven starts since beating Arizona in his season debut.

Wells is 1-1 with a 7.15 ERA against the Nationals but has not faced them since 2009.

Washington’s Jayson Werth(notes) has hit .128 (5 for 39) with 17 strikeouts over the last 11 games, but he’s 2 for 3 with a double versus Wells.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Wells Tex vs. T. Gorzelanny Det
7-6 Record 4-6
4.99 ERA 4.03
82 K 95
47 BB 33
1.39 WHIP 1.29


Wednesday, Jul 6