The Washington Nationals have consistently finished well off the pace in the National League East, but lately they've had plenty of success against the team that's won the division five consecutive years.
The Nationals head into this afternoon's contest with six straight wins over the Phillies. Philadelphia's losing streak is the longest ever for the Phils against the Nationals franchise (since 2005). The Phillies lost the season series to the Nats last year, 8-10, just their second loss in the seven seasons since the club has been in D.C.
Also, this is the longest winning streak for the Nationals franchise over the Phillies since the 1989 Montreal Expos won eight in a row over them.
"I felt like they were the best team in baseball last year," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of the Phillies. "To beat them the first time in our house, it was a big game for us."
The Nats, who are on top in the NL East, are 7-1-0 in series play this year and can get their eighth such win today. Washington has been winning the close games, playing an MLB-leading 14 one-run contests and winning nine of them.
The Phillies dropped another extra-inning game last night, falling to 0-4 in such contests this season. Pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos knocked in the game- winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning in a 4-3 final to start the three-game series.
"We lost but we have to stay focused," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said. "If we take the next two, we put ourselves in good position."
With Michael Schwimer (0-1) on the mound, Steve Lombardozzi started the rally with a two-out single before Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth drew walks to load the bases. After falling behind 0-2 and fouling off a couple of tough pitches, Ramos got a slider up and stroked it into center field to score Lombardozzi.
Ryan Perry (1-0) tossed a perfect top of the 11th to earn the win. The Nationals have won three consecutive games.
Chad Tracy cracked a solo home run and Jesus Flores added a pair of RBI with a double and a sacrifice fly. Harper went 0-for-3 at the plate but drew three walks.
Hunter Pence smacked a two-run homer and Carlos Ruiz added a solo shot for the Phillies, who took two of three from the Atlanta Braves before this series.
Vance Worley gets the ball today for the Phillies. He's allowed no more than one run in all but one of his starts this season. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA in three games (2 starts) against the Nationals.
In 2006, Gio Gonzalez pitched in Philadelphia's farm system and fanned 9.7 per 9.0 innings thrown for Reading of the Double-A Eastern League. Now, the lefty gets a chance to face the Phillies for the first time in his career. Gonzalez has allowed a total of two runs over his last four starts, but is coming off a 2-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday.