Nats continue playoff pursuit versus rival Phillies

It's not time to break out the defibrillator yet on the Washington Nationals, as they carry a six-game winning streak into Friday's opener of a three-game series versus the Philadelphia Phillies.

A heavy favorite to win the NL East and possibly reach the World Series, the Nationals have had their share of bumps and bruises throughout the season and find themselves 5 1/2 games out of the wild card race.

The Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the New York Mets with Thursday's 7-2 win, as starting pitcher Tanner Roark remained unbeaten at 6-0 with six innings of two-run ball. Roark was backed by home runs from Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos and Anthony Rendon.

Zimmerman homered for the second consecutive game and has gone deep eight times in 11 games during the month of September. Denard Span doubled and scored a run in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 23 games.

"Span is the catalyst," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "Your leadoff guys are always the catalyst."

Washington, winners in nine of 11 contests, will begin a 10-game homestand Friday versus Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami. The club was scheduled to send Stephen Strasburg to the hill for this opener, but scratched the hurler due to tightness in his forearm.

Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will make the start Strasburg's place and is 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 14 games (5 starts) this season. His last start came on Sept. 1 versus the New York Mets.

The Phillies will try to play spoiler Friday and went 6-3 on a recent homestand. They finished off the San Diego Padres with Thursday's 10-5 victory to take the three-game set and had a 14-4 hit advantage.

Carlos Ruiz had three hits and three RBI, Cesar Hernandez went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in and two runs scored and Chase Utley knocked in a pair of runs for the Phillies.

"Big offensive night," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored and is nearing a milestone. Rollins is a home run shy of becoming the 10th player in major league history with 200 homers and 400 stolen bases. The other players to achieve the feat are Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Johnny Damon, Roberto Alomar, Marquis Grissom and Bobby Bonds.

Roy Halladay started the game for the Phils and struggled, lasting just 4 1/3 innings and allowing five runs -- four earned -- on four hits and five walks. Justin De Fratus got the win for getting the final two outs of the fifth inning.

Kyle Kendrick draws the start for the Phillies Friday night and has struggled in his last nine starts. He is 1-6 with a 6.08 earned run average in that time and did not factor in the outcome of a 6-5 win over Atlanta on Saturday, as he permitted three runs in six innings, struck out eight and walked three.

Kendrick is 1-2 in four starts against Washington this season and 5-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 23 career meetings (21 starts) with the Nationals.

The Phillies trail the season series with the Nats by a 9-7 count and have lost two straight and five of the past six matchups between the clubs.