The Washington Nationals have enjoyed success over the Philadelphia Phillies in recent years and look to keep the trend going tonight in the middle test of a three-game road series at Citizens Bank Park.
The Nationals posted their 12th win in 15 tries against their National League East foes with Monday's 2-1 victory in the series opener. Ian Desmond homered and drove in both runs, while rookie Bryce Harper added two hits and a run scored for Washington, which has won two in a row after a three-game slide.
Gio Gonzalez threw six scoreless innings and struck out nine batters for the win and Sean Burnett got the last two outs in the ninth for his second save. Burnett came on in relief of closer Henry Rodriguez, who allowed the Phillies to make it interesting with a run in the bottom of the frame.
"With Henry, it's either lights out or sometimes it's exciting," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "Again, Burnett did a heck of a job bailing him out."
Washington kicked off a nine-game road trip on Monday in which they will also visit Atlanta and Miami.
The Nationals will roll the dice with Jordan Zimmermann tonight and he is 1-3 with a 3.91 ERA in his last four starts. Zimmermann last toed the rubber in Thursday's 5-3 loss versus Pittsburgh and suffered defeat after he permitted four runs and seven hits in six innings.
Zimmermann, a right-hander, fell to 2-4 in eight starts to go along with a 2.58 ERA this season. He lost to the Phillies in a 9-3 setback on May 6 and was hit for three runs in six innings of work. Zimmermann is 0-3 in four career starts in this series. Washington has scored fewer than three runs in seven of Zimmermann's past eight starts.
Philadelphia has dropped three straight since winning a season-high six games in a row and hope to even this series tonight. Kyle Kendrick toed the rubber last night and was saddled with the tough-luck loss, as he surrendered both runs through seven innings.
Ty Wigginton's sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the ninth inning scored John Mayberry Jr. for the Phillies' only run. With runners on first and second and two outs, Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco lined out to end the game.
"When you relax, you play how you play," Polanco said. "When you have pressure, you try too hard and it never happens."
The Phils are 1-3 on a six-game homestand and last in the NL East.
Phillies ace Roy Halladay was able to earn his first win in more than a month his last time out and will get the nod again tonight. Halladay was 0-3 with a 4.59 earned run average in five starts before last Thursday's 8-7 win against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he allowed three runs in eight innings for his first win since April 16 at San Francisco.
Halladay is 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts this season, but is just 1-2 in four outings at home. The Phillies hope the right-hander can find some success at Citizens Bank Park against a Washington ballclub he will face for the 17th time in his career. Halladay is a dominant 11-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) against the Nationals.
Philadelphia lost two of three in D.C. from May 4-6 and is winless in eight of the past nine matchups between the clubs.