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AP - Sports

Gio Gonzalez was nearly unhittable in his most recent outing while keeping a modest win streak going for the Washington Nationals.

That run has grown to a season-high seven games for the suddenly playoff-contending Nationals, and Gonzalez will try to reduce his club's deficit in the NL wild-card race by outdueling the Philadelphia Phillies' Cole Hamels on Saturday night.

Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31 ERA) nearly pitched the franchise's first no-hitter in 22 years Monday against the New York Mets. The lone hit he allowed was Zach Lutz's single in the seventh inning that hit the foul line behind first base.

Gonzalez, 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA in his last three starts, struck out eight and walked two in Washington's third straight victory.

"It's been a long time since Gio was aggressive on the mound like that," catcher Wilson Ramos told the team's website. "So it was impressive to get him back. Hopefully, he will stay like that for the rest of the season and the next couple of years that he will be here."

The Nationals (78-69) kept rolling Friday while adding to their dominance over the Phillies (68-79). Wilson Ramos homered and drove in three runs, and Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 5 with a solo shot in a 6-1 victory.

Denard Span also extended his career-high hit streak to 24 games in Washington's sixth win in seven matchups against Philadelphia and eighth in the last nine home meetings. That victory and Cincinnati's 5-1 loss in Milwaukee cut the Nationals' deficit in the wild-card race to 4 1/2 games.

Gonzalez will try to boost his team's postseason hopes by improving on his 5-1 record and 2.22 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies. The left-hander, though, needed some generous run support to earn a victory in his latest matchup Sept. 3.

Gonzalez gave up five runs - only one earned - over 5 2-3 innings in a 9-6 win.

"It's one of the ugly (games) I've seen," manager Davey Johnson told the team's website. "Gio had a real rough start. He threw a lot of pitches. He hung in there. (The fielders) were sloppy behind him."

Hamels (7-13, 3.45) will also try to extend a three-game win streak as Philadelphia looks to play spoiler. The left-hander has a 1.95 ERA in his last eight outings and has given up two hits in each of his last two, including a 3-2 victory over Washington on Sept. 2.

Hamels allowed a solo homer and a single in seven innings against the Nationals but did not get a decision. He gave up two solo shots in eight innings and struck out nine in a 3-2 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.

"The season is going to end really shortly, and if you don't take it serious, it all adds up," Hamels told the team's website. "Your stats and everything that you do, personality wise, is going to add up and it's going to translate into the future of how you play and what you expect out of yourself.

"Everybody has to try to take it serious and play all the way through."

Hamels is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last two starts against the Nationals but gave up five runs - three earned - over 6 1-3 innings in his only other visit to Washington this season, a 6-1 loss May 26.

Span, hitting .375 in his last six games against Philadelphia, is 3 for 10 all-time against Hamels but is 0 for 3 this season.

Washington's longest win streak in last year's NL East championship season was an eight-game run Aug. 4-11.

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