Nationals-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

Though he hasn't earned a win in six weeks, Gio Gonzalez has pitched well of late.

The same can't be said for Kyle Kendrick, who was especially bad the last time he took the mound.

Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals try to avoid a three-game sweep against the Philadelphia Phillies, who try to extend their season-high home winning streak to seven Wednesday night.

Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40 ERA) has a 2.12 ERA in seven starts since May 5 but has gone 0-1, mainly because he's received a measly run support average of 2.31. He's surrendered more than two earned runs in only one game during May and June while holding opposing batters to a .188 average.

The two-time All-Star turned in another impressive display Friday, allowing one run and three hits over seven innings in a 2-1 walkoff loss at Cleveland.

"Everybody talks about (his) breaking ball, but he can beat you with his fastball up, and that's what he did," Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB's official website. "We had trouble from the belt up with his fastball. He's just got so much finish on it, and you have to respect the breaking ball, but he had extra, he has that little finish on his fastball that's really tough to catch up with."

Washington has lost the last four starts made by Gonzalez, who is 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA against the Phillies - all four outings came last year. He had eight strikeouts and threw a career-high 127 pitches Friday.

"Gio pitched really well," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "He grinded, and that's what we expect from him, and he did a great job. It's unfortunate the offense couldn't come through for him."

Philadelphia's bats, in contrast, came through for Kendrick (6-4, 3.76) on Friday. The right-hander allowed a career worst-tying seven runs and 10 hits in a season-low 4 1-3 innings, but the Phillies rallied to beat Colorado 8-7.

"I was just up in the zone tonight, really up all night," said Kendrick, 2-3 with a 5.70 ERA over his last six starts. "I couldn't make a pitch, but the offense picked me up."

Kendrick also has had problems against the Nationals (34-36), going 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 18 starts. He was tagged for five runs in as many innings during a 5-2 loss in the nation's capital May 24.

He'll need to be careful against Desmond, who is 10 for 25 with two homers in their matchups. Ryan Zimmerman, though, is 2 for his last 17 against Kendrick and Jayson Werth is 1 for 14.

Cliff Lee had his way with Washington on Tuesday, throwing eight strong innings in a 4-2 victory. Michael Young had three doubles and scored twice for the Phillies (35-37), who have outscored opponents 36-17 during their six-game win streak at Citizens Bank Park.

"If we play fundamental baseball and everyone plays up to their capabilities, we can beat anybody," Lee said.

Ben Revere is hitting .415 with eight runs and three stolen bases during a nine-game hitting streak, and Young is batting .408 over his last 12.

"Looks like his bat is a little quicker," manager Charlie Manuel said of Young. "He expects a lot out of himself and he wants to do more. He's starting to relax."

Losers in 13 of 18 on the road, the Nationals have managed just six runs during a three-game skid. They lost a season-worst four straight April 21-24 and May 18-21.

Washington has dropped seven of nine in Philadelphia.