One of only two 12-game winners in the National League, Jordan Zimmermann looks to set a new career high in wins for a season on Thursday night when the Washington Nationals wrap a four-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Zimmermann is 12-3 with a 2.57 earned run average through 18 starts, matching his personal-best win total set a season ago in 32 outings. He has won four straight decisions and is unbeaten over his last seven outings since a loss at Baltimore on May 29.
The right-hander is coming off a tough no-decision versus San Diego on Saturday, when he allowed three runs on five hits and a walk in just 5 1/3 innings. Zimmermann needed 101 pitches to get through his outing, though the Nats rallied for a 5-4 win.
"I was just deep into counts all game and they were battling and made me work out there," Zimmermann said on Washington's website. "It was probably one of the hotter games I've ever pitched in, so that definitely doesn't help."
The 27-year-old is 2-4 lifetime versus the Phillies with a 4.62 ERA in seven meetings. That does include a victory at home on May 24 as he hurled seven innings of two-run ball.
The Nats dropped the first two games of this series with the Phillies, but used a power surge in Wednesday's meeting to deal Cliff Lee his first loss since May with a 5-1 decision.
Lee was denied his ninth straight winning decision, tagged for four runs on solo homers by Anthony Rendon, Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth over seven full frames.
"All four of the home runs I felt I gave up were decent pitches," Lee said. "It's just one of those deals when it's hot this time of the year here the ball carries."
Gio Gonzalez picked up the win for Washington, its fifth in seven games, after working seven innings. The lone run he allowed came on a Darin Ruf solo homer.
"He's a tough guy to get some runs off," Gonzalez said of Lee. "It's good to see your team go out there and battle and do what they did."
The Phillies had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 4-2 on a 10- game homestand.
Kyle Kendrick hopes to get on track for the Phillies and should look no further for help than his last outing versus the Nationals.
Facing Washington at home on June 19, the right-hander gave up just a run and two hits over 7 2/3 innings, though he did not factor into a 6-2 loss. Kendrick did lower his career ERA versus Washington to 4.63 through 21 meetings (19 starts) to go along with a 4-6 record.
Kendrick has been roughed up for 10 runs and 22 hits over back-to-back losses and he lasted just five frames versus Atlanta on Saturday. The 28-year-old gave up a career-high 12 hits, including two homers, and was charged with six runs, falling to 7-6 on the year with a 3.90 ERA in 18 outings.
The Phillies own a 5-4 advantage in the season series with the Nats, taking four of six so far at home.