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Phillies-Nationals Preview

AP - Sports

Stephen Strasburg is coming off what manager Matt Williams described as his best start all season.

He might be even better Friday night given his recent domination of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Washington Nationals look for a 12th win in 13 home games as they open a three-game series with their NL East rivals.

Strasburg (11-10, 3.49 ERA) allowed one run and struck out eight over 7 2-3 innings in a 3-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday. He pushed his strikeout total to 210, the most by a Nationals pitcher since the franchise relocated from Montreal in 2005.

"I made them hit my best stuff," Strasburg told MLB's official website.

It marked the fifth time in seven starts in which Strasburg has completed at least seven innings while yielding one run or fewer.

Strasburg figures to have a good chance to put forth a similar performance, as he's 4-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 64 strikeouts over 48 2-3 innings in seven starts versus Philadelphia since the start of 2013. That's the fourth-lowest ERA by a pitcher against one opponent over at least five starts in the last two years.

Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - three of the Phillies' top five RBI leaders - are a combined 10 for 68 with 22 strikeouts against Strasburg.

Strasburg last saw them Aug. 3, when he fanned 10 and yielded three hits in seven innings of a 4-0 home victory.

The Nationals (79-59) enjoy baseball's second-largest divisional lead with a seven-game cushion over Atlanta. They're averaging 5.6 runs while winning 11 of 12 at home but come off a 4-5 trip, which they wrapped up Wednesday with an 8-5 win in 14 innings over the NL West-leading Dodgers.

"Whether we get down or go ahead or whatever the case may be, it looked like the guys have the will to win at all times," reliever Aaron Barrett told MLB's official website.

Adam LaRoche had five RBIs despite not entering the game until the ninth inning. He was absent from the starting lineup due to a strained lower back.

LaRoche, who had been 1 for 23 over his previous seven games, could have a tough time sustaining the momentum from Wednesday's performance since he's 3 for 31 over his last nine matchups with the Phillies (64-75).

Philadelphia has won seven of 10 but lost 7-4 at Atlanta on Wednesday.

The last-place Phillies evened the season series with the Nationals at eight after sweeping a three-game set at home Aug. 25-27, though they're 2-5 in Washington.

Jerome Williams (3-0, 2.03) has been a revelation for Philadelphia since being acquired off waivers from Texas on Aug. 10, winning his last three starts while yielding four runs in 21 2-3 innings. He limited the Mets to two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-2 road victory Saturday.

Grady Sizemore, who hit his third homer with the Phillies on Wednesday, is 10 for 19 with four extra-base hits over his last six matchups with Washington. However, he's struck out three times in five career at-bats against Strasburg.

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