Nats continue improbable postseason push in Philadelphia

Jayson Werth has certainly been the MVP of Washington's offense this season.

If he can help get his club into the postseason, he may get more than a few votes for the top honor in the National League.

Werth brings his hot bat into Philadelphia on Monday night as the Nationals begin a three-game series versus the Phillies.

The 34-year-old Werth is hitting .323 this season, batting at a .367 clip in 40 games since the All-Star break with 11 homers and 32 RBI. The outfielder hit .380 in August and then opened September with a key two-out RBI double in Sunday's 6-5 win over the New York Mets.

Werth's hit came during a three-run eighth for the Nats, who rallied to avoid a three-game sweep. They won for the ninth time in 12 games and sit 6 1/2 games out of the NL's second wild card.

"He's been swinging the bat good. He's driven," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Werth.

Werth spent four seasons with the Phillies from 2007-10, batting .282 while hitting 95 homers with 300 RBI. He helped the club win the World Series in 2008, but is just 3-for-18 lifetime against former teammate Cole Hamels, who starts tonight for Philadelphia.

Hamels, the MVP of the '08 World Series, has put a slow start behind him to post a 2.25 earned run average over his last 11 outings. The lefty went 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in six August starts and capped the month with a 6-2 win over the Mets on Wednesday.

Hamels allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out eight.

"That's kind of the thing about baseball is that you have to keep pressing and digging deep because eventually good things will come," said Hamels, who is 6-13 with a 3.58 ERA in 28 starts this year.

The 29-year-old has solid career numbers versus the Nationals, going 14-6 with a 2.57 ERA.

Hamels squares off against a fellow ace in Washington's Stephen Strasburg, who has logged fewer than three innings in two of his last three starts.

Strasburg went 1-0 with a 2.60 ERA last month, but recorded just three outs before getting ejected in the second inning versus Atlanta on Aug. 17 for throwing at Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

The righty then logged 8 2/3 innings in a no-decision at the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22 before seeing his outing on Wednesday versus Miami cut short after two frames due to a 72-minute rain delay.

Strasburg, 25, has dominated the Phillies in a pair of winning starts this year, holding them to one run and striking out 19. That includes a four-hit, 10-strikeout shutout on Aug. 11.

He is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA in five career meetings with the Phillies and will try to cool down Philadelphia outfielder Darin Ruf.

Ruf hit a solo homer in Sunday's 7-1 loss, giving him 12 on the year and 10 in his past 30 games. He is hitting .256 with 21 RBI in 49 games.

"It was one of the few good swing we had," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Ruf's home run.

Philadelphia, which has lost three of its last four, was without Domonic Brown in Sunday's starting lineup as the All-Star is battling a sore right Achilles. He popped out in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter.

The Nats swept a three-game set at home versus the Phillies from Aug. 9-10 and lead the season series 7-6.