There haven't been many pitchers better than Washington righty Jordan Zimmermann this year. He tries to become the majors' first eight-game winner on Saturday when the Nationals continue a four-game set with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Zimmermann won his fourth straight start on Monday in Los Angeles, as he held the Dodgers to a pair of runs and nine hits in 7 2/3 innings. He also struck out five without walking a batter to improve to 7-1 to go along with a 1.69 ERA.
"I just wanted to put the ball in play and the defense played great all night," Zimmermann said. "I wasn't thinking (a complete game). By the eighth inning, I got a little winded. I left the ball up a little bit and I wasn't able to finish the game."
Zimmermann has faced the Padres three times and is 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA.
San Diego, meanwhile, will hand the ball to lefty Eric Stults, who is 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA. Stults absorbed the loss on Sunday against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs and five hits with a season-high five walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"Today, to walk five, that's not my game," said Stults, who has never faced the Nationals. "Today was a struggle for me. I didn't have a real good feel for my pitches."
Washington made it two straight wins in as many days over the Padres on Friday, as Chad Tracy hit a pinch-hit, two-out solo homer in the top of the 10th inning to propel the Nationals to a 6-5 win.
Tracy, who last hit a home run on May 14th, 2012 against the Padres, smacked a solo shot off Huston Street (0-3) following a two-run, two-out rally from San Diego in the bottom of the ninth which sent the game to extras.
Adam LaRoche recorded his 21st career multi-homer game and finished with four RBI and Ryan Zimmerman added a solo shot in the victory.
LaRoche, who homered in his third straight game, also extended his hitting streak to 14 games. The Nationals, meanwhile, have won seven of their last eight in San Diego.
"He's been on fire. He had a huge night tonight, but he's been swinging the bat well for a couple of weeks now," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
Rafael Soriano picked up the win, despite blowing the save in the ninth and allowing two runs -- both of which were unearned -- on three hits. Drew Storen worked around two singles in the 10th the secure his first save of the season.
Kyle Blanks had two hits and two RBI for the Padres, who have lost five of seven.
San Diego lost three of five matchups with Washington last season and have dropped eight of the previous 10 overall meetings between the clubs.