Nationals-Phillies Preview

The Associated PressJuly 10, 2013

Though generally thought of as a hitter-friendly location, Citizens Bank Park has played like a pitchers' park for the Philadelphia Phillies recently.

Cliff Lee will look to keep it that way when he opposes a fellow dominant left-hander Wednesday night.

Lee can help the Phillies reach the .500 mark for the first time in more than a month when they face the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies (45-46) have surrendered seven runs while recording three straight wins, all at home. A week after tying a season worst by falling five games under .500, Philadelphia can reach the break-even mark for the first time since June 7 with its sixth win in seven tries.

Philadelphia had allowed 42 runs in the six home contests prior to its winning streak, going 2-4 in that span.

"We've been playing a lot better,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. "It goes to show you we can win games when we play good. We're kind of growing.''

The Phillies have beaten first-place Atlanta and second-place Washington two times apiece in the past six contests. They've won 10 of their last 14 against clubs with winning records.

'The only way to definitely gain ground on teams ahead of you is to beat them,'' Lee said.

The Phillies and Nationals may be due for another pitchers' duel after combining for 11 runs in the first two games of this series, though Lee (10-2, 2.73 ERA) wasn't at his best his last time out. He gave up four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory over the Braves on Friday, allowing that many runs for the first time in 12 starts.

He'll be opposed by Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14), who despite pitching well for an extended stretch has only recently begun to pick up wins.

Gonzalez has posted a 2.11 ERA in his past seven starts and has gone 3-0 in that span, with all of the victories coming in his last three outings.

Gonzalez had received only seven runs of support over six prior starts before the Nationals scored 25 for him during the past three.

He gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of an 8-5 win over San Diego on Friday.

"It was just one of those days you have to battle through, but defense came through and offense was as wonderful as it gets,'' Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has fared well against Philadelphia, going 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five career starts. He tied a career high with 11 strikeouts in a 6-2 road victory over the Phillies on June 19, throwing seven innings of two-run ball, though he didn't get a decision.

Gonzalez struck out star left fielder Domonic Brown three times in that game.

Lee has had similar success against the Nationals, posting a 2.06 ERA in his last five matchups with them and going 3-1 in the past four. The most recent came June 18, when gave up two runs in eight innings with nine strikeouts in a 4-2 win.

Ian Desmond is 3 for 16 with six strikeouts against Lee, while Ryan Zimmerman is 4 for 21 with five strikeouts in the matchup.

Ben Revere has continued his torrid pace for Philadelphia, recording his eighth multihit performance in 12 games Tuesday night. He's batting .451 with five doubles during that stretch.