Phillies-Nationals Preview


A team meeting, a new lineup and heading to the road did nothing to reverse the Philadelphia Phillies' woes.

Facing Stephen Strasburg seems highly unlikely to help.

The Washington Nationals right-hander has been very solid since a shaky start to the season and has been dominant lately against the Phillies, who enter Wednesday night desperate for signs of life.

They showed none Tuesday despite manager Ryne Sandberg calling a team meeting earlier in the day following a 4-7 homestand in which Philadelphia hit .210. The offense was no better in a 7-0 loss at Washington, getting held to six hits as Sandberg's lineup changes didn't pay off.

Ben Revere hit .353 in the previous 11 games but was dropped from the leadoff spot to eighth and went 0 for 4. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Marlon Byrd moved up to the 1-2-3 spots but combined to go 2 for 11.

"It's time right now to do something about it," said Sandberg, whose club looks to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss. "It's about getting the job done, playing better, full games to allow us to have a chance to win the game."

The Phillies (24-32) haven't done much against Strasburg (4-4, 3.15 ERA) in four matchups since the start of last season. He's allowed one run and one extra-base hit in 29 innings, striking out 34 and walking four while going 2-0.

Strasburg didn't beat them May 2 but gave up three unearned runs in six innings of a 5-3 victory. That's part of his current stretch of eight consecutive quality starts after he had one through his first four 2014 outings with a 6.00 ERA.

He's been particularly good in his last six at home, going 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA. Strasburg beat Texas there Friday, allowing two unearned runs and striking out nine in six innings of a 9-2 victory.

"I think he's coming into his own, starting to show a little bulldogness out there," shortstop Ian Desmond said.

Desmond hit his fourth homer in 10 games Tuesday, and Anthony Rendon had his second in the last three, but the brightest spot offensively may have been Ryan Zimmerman's two doubles and RBI.

Zimmerman returned after missing 44 games with a broken thumb and was in left field for the first time in his 10-year career after almost exclusively playing third base. Throwing problems due to the injury, the absence of Bryce Harper and Rendon playing well at third resulted in Zimmerman heading to the outfield.

"I was a little nervous at first, but I'm pretty comfortable out there now," Zimmerman said. "... Good win, put up some runs. I'm just excited to be back."

It appears Washington (28-28) has a good shot to put up a lot more runs against A.J. Burnett (3-4, 3.79). He's 1-3 with a 6.30 ERA in his last five starts, allowing 35 hits and 18 walks in 30 innings.

Burnett had a season-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings Friday but walked six and yielded five runs in a 6-5, 14-inning win over the Mets.

"I'm missing here and there, but six (walks) is a lot," said Burnett, who has issued an NL-worst 37 free passes. "I have some work to do."

Burnett, though, had his most recent quality start versus the Nationals and is 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his last six against them. He surrendered one run and three hits in six innings of a 7-2 victory over Washington on May 3.

Philadelphia is an NL-worst 9-18 since May 4 and has lost 10 of 12 in Washington.