Zimmermann tries to extend interleague dominance vs. Jays

( - Jordan Zimmermann looks to continue his mastery of the American League on Monday when the Washington Nationals welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Nationals Park for the start of a three-game series.

Zimmermann has been among the best pitchers in baseball of late, but few have been better at home in interleague play than him. In nine games in D.C. versus the AL he is 6-0 with a 1.95 ERA.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 3-0 over his last seven starts and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of those outings. Zimmermann tossed his eighth straight quality start on Tuesday, but did not get a decision versus Chicago, despite a terrific outing that saw him surrender a run and six hits in seven innings of a 3-2 loss.

Zimmermann, who has posted 15 straight quality starts at Nationals Park, is 4-2 on the season with a 3.26 ERA.

He'll be trying to help the Nats bounce back from an awful weekend that saw them get swept by the Cincinnati Reds, Washington relievers served up six runs in two innings of Sunday's 8-2 setback and yielded 14 in the series.

"They've been pushed with the short starts and the spot start, they've been pushed a lot on this road trip," Nationals Manager Matt Williams said of his relievers.

Washington has lost four of five, but still holds a half-game lead atop the NL East ahead of the New York Mets.

Toronto, meanwhile, also enters on a sour note, as it dropped two of three to the red-hot Minnesota Twins this weekend, including a 6-5 loss on Sunday.

Josh Donaldson hit his 15th homer in the loss and is 11-for-25 with six homers, two doubles, 11 RBI and 11 runs over his last six games.

"He's got that knack, and that's why he's an elite player," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "And that's not easy to do consistently like he's doing. Thank God we've got him."

R.A. Dickey hopes Donaldson can continue his recent surge, as he tries to win his second consecutive decision. Dickey, though, is just 2-5 on the year with a 5.77 ERA and has surrendered four runs or more in six of his last seven starts.

Washington has won six of its last seven versus the Blue Jays.