Preview Washington at Philadelphia
(SportsNetwork.com) - If only Gio Gonzalez could get things together.
Nearly all other elements of the Washington Nationals seem in place for a stretch run, but one of their longtime aces is still struggling as they visit Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night for the second of three games with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Nationals lead the National League's East Division by 7 1/2 games -- even after a loss to the Phillies in Monday's opener -- after a stretch of 12 wins in 14 games that has featured a 2.27 earned run average from the starting rotation.
Still Gonzalez remains immersed in a drought that stretches back to July 5, when he defeated the Chicago Cubs, 13-0. In eight starts since, he's 0-5 with a 4.36 ERA.
Run support has been an issue in the skid, however, as the Nationals have managed just three runs in the last seven Gonzalez starts, including zero during his seven innings on Thursday -- in a game Washington ultimately won, 1-0.
"I just wanted to try and blend in with the rest of the rotation," Gonzalez said. "You try not to stick out like a sore thumb."
He was dinged for five runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of a July 31 game against Philadelphia, dropping a 10-4 decision. In his last three starts against the Phillies, in fact, he's 0-3 with a 5.29 ERA.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels has owned the Nationals to the tune of a 9-3 record and a 2.68 ERA in 16 meetings with them at home. He's 3-0 in the last five with an ERA that's shrunk to 2.06.
In Washington on Aug. 3, Hamels allowed an unearned run in seven innings, but dropped a hard-luck 4-0 decision.
Hamels was a 4-3 winner over Seattle in his last start Wednesday and is 5-1 in his last nine.
"He's pitched outstanding," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He was due for a win like this with not his best stuff and his teammates picking him up. He's on a long roll of good games and some of them without the run support."
On Monday, A.J. Burnett limited the Nationals' red-hot offense to one run across seven innings as the Phillies eked past Washington, 3-2. Burnett (7-14) recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts and allowed just three hits, the only costly one a homer to Anthony Rendon in the sixth inning.
Cody Asche and Carlos Ruiz both hit solo shots while Domonic Brown went 2- for-3 with an RBI for the Phillies, who are coming off back-to-back series victories for the first time since April.
Tanner Roark (12-8) took the loss despite tossing six quality innings. He was charged with two runs on five hits and a walk.
The Nats are 8-6 versus the Phillies this season.