National League wins leader Jordan Zimmermann looks to post a third straight victorious start on Sunday afternoon as the Washington Nationals wrap up a three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies.
One season after posting a career-best 2.94 earned run average and 32 starts, Zimmermann has surpassed his previous single-season high for victories by five, going 17-8 with a 3.36 ERA in 29 outings.
The 27-year-old righty picked up a victory over the Phillies on Sept. 4 by scattering two runs over seven innings, then struggled in logging his 17th victory.
Facing the New York Mets on Tuesday, Zimmermann lasted just five-plus innings and was charged with three runs on eight hits and a walk in the positive 6-3 decision.
"I didn't have very good command of any pitches," Zimmermann said.
The former second-round pick is 3-5 with a 4.13 ERA in nine career meetings with the Phillies, but does have a 2.66 ERA in three starts versus them this year.
The Phillies send 26-year-old Tyler Cloyd to the mound today hoping he can bounce back from a horrid outing last time out.
In only his third appearance with the Phillies since June 12, Cloyd replaced Ethan Martin in the rotation on Tuesday and gave up a season-high seven runs over four-plus innings to take an 8-2 loss. He fell to 2-4 with a 4.56 ERA in nine games (8 starts) this year.
"My pitches were up and I made a lot of mistakes," said Cloyd. "Pitches were getting too much of the plate and not really mixing it up too much. Definitely needed to throw a lot more offspeed pitches. They were on my fastball and cutter all night."
The righty lost his only other previous encounter with the Nationals, which came last year. Cloyd was drilled for six runs over five innings of work.
Washington's playoff hopes were dealt a blow on Saturday as Philadelphia evened this series with a 5-4 win, snapping the Nationals' seven-game winning streak.
It was costly for the Nats, who fell 5 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the league's second wild card spot after the Reds beat Milwaukee.
"To see this one loss feels like a big blow to the stomach. We're not counting ourselves out. We still have a chance," said Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who gave up four runs over six innings in the loss.
Denard Span had three hits and scored twice in the setback to extend his hitting streak to 25 games.
Carlos Ruiz drove in three of the Phils' four runs in the fifth inning with a double, while John Mayberry added a homer in his club's sixth victory in eight games.
"We're trying to finish strong," Ruiz said. "We know we don't have a shot to go to the playoffs, but we want to play real hard."
Cole Hamels pitched into the seventh inning and was charged with three earned runs to get the win.
The Phillies trail the season series with the Nats by a 10-8 count and had lost three straight and six of the past seven matchups between the clubs before Saturday's win.