Nationals-Giants Preview

The Associated Press

The Washington Nationals boast arguably the National League's hottest offense. But continuing their torrid stretch could prove difficult with a visit to the major league-leading San Francisco Giants, though they've given Ryan Vogelsong plenty of problems in the past.

Washington seeks its eighth win in 10 games Monday night in the opener of a four-game set with San Francisco.

During their 25-27 start, the Nationals (32-29) ranked 10th in the NL with 3.9 runs per game. They're averaging 5.9 and slugging .463 while winning seven of nine since, including a 6-0 victory at San Diego on Sunday.

Ian Desmond homered for the second straight game and has nine home runs and 20 RBIs over his last 23 contests after tallying just four homers in his first 37 games. Danny Espinosa, who had three hits, is 10 for 22 over his last six games and 15 for 31 in his last eight against San Francisco with three home runs and seven RBIs.

The Giants (42-21) have won 14 of 17 overall and nine of 10 at home. Vogelsong (4-2, 3.39 ERA) is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA over his last four outings and struck out a career-high nine in 6 1-3 innings while yielding two runs in Wednesday's 3-2 win at Cincinnati.

While the right-hander has thrown at least six innings in eight straight starts, he's lasted fewer than four innings in two of his three career starts against Washington while posting an 8.74 ERA.

Ryan Zimmerman is 3 for 6 against him.

Washington's rotation has also been strong of late, posting a 1.27 ERA with starters completing at least seven innings six times in the last nine games. Jordan Zimmermann struck out 12 in a two-hitter Sunday.

Monday's starter Stephen Strasburg (5-4, 3.10) is 2-0 in three career starts versus San Francisco with a 1.89 ERA.

He's won back-to-back starts for the first time this year while receiving 14 runs of support. The Nationals had backed him with nine runs of support in his previous five outings.

"Guys came up big again tonight," Strasburg told the team's official website after allowing two earned runs and striking out 11 in seven innings of an 8-4 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday. "It makes it much easier."

Strasburg is 0-3 in five road starts with a 4.80 ERA.

Gregor Blanco is 3 for 8 against him and came up big in San Francisco's 6-4 victory over the Mets on Sunday, driving in three runs in place of Angel Pagan, who received a day of rest. It was just the 14th start for Blanco, though he's 14 for his last 31.

"The club is getting contributions from everybody," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Last year, it seemed like your hope is through the heart of the order and then you have to wait for them to come back around."

Pagan is 11 for 27 (.407) over his last seven home contests with eight runs scored. He's also 10 for 30 with seven RBIs in his last seven matchups with Washington.

Washington's Anthony Rendon missed his second straight game Sunday after being hit in the hand Friday but manager Matt Williams said he'll likely play Monday. Rendon is 12 for 29 over his last seven contests with four homers and eight RBIs.

Williams earned four All-Star selections while playing for the Giants from 1987-1996.

San Francisco limited Washington to four runs while taking two of three at home last season.

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