Nationals-Cardinals Preview

The Washington Nationals don't seem overly concerned about their offensive struggles that resulted in them being swept in their most recent series.

However, things might not get any easier Friday night when the Nationals face the Cardinals at St. Louis, where they've won three times in the regular season over the past eight years.

Washington averaged 4.4 runs while winning 14 of the first 18 but totaled three - none in the last two - with 13 hits and 27 strikeouts while going 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position in being swept in a three-game home set by Philadelphia.

Scoreless over the last 22 innings, the Nationals (14-7) have not gone three straight games without a run since April 2004 in the franchise's final season in Montreal.

"We'll get it fixed," manager Dusty Baker told MLB's official website. "You have to work your way out of these things. ... You just gotta go back to work. It's simple."

Baker's players, at least publicly, also won't panic.

''If every 21 games we went 14-7 I think we'd be all right,'' said veteran Ryan Zimmerman, who is 3 for 19 with seven strikeouts in the last four games. "I think everyone just needs to calm down.''

Bryce Harper is batting .314 after going 2 for 8 and walking five times against the Phillies. He struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Thursday's 3-0 defeat.

Harper is a career .357 regular-season hitter at Busch Stadium, but the Nationals are 3-20 there since the beginning of the 2008 season. They snapped a nine-game skid in St. Louis with a 4-3 win Sept. 2, and seem eager to open a potentially daunting 10-game trip that also includes stops at Kansas City and Wrigley Field.

"We enjoy the challenge," Zimmerman said. "We get to see what we are really made of. We go out and play three really good teams. I think the guys in (the) locker room are excited for it."

Perhaps because St. Louis' Mike Leake (0-2, 5.64 ERA) has allowed at least four runs in each of his four starts and 28 hits in 22 1/3 innings. The right-hander gave up five runs - three earned - and seven hits in five innings of Sunday's 8-5 win at San Diego.

He's 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA in nine starts against the Nationals, last facing them in May 2014.

Stephen Strasburg (3-0, 2.17) hopes to keep things close even if Washington's offense continues to struggle as he tries to go 4-0 for the first time. After yielding three runs in his first three starts, the right-hander gave up four - including a three-run homer - but struck out 10 over 7 1/3 innings of Sunday's 6-5, 16-inning victory over Minnesota.

Facing the Cardinals (12-10) for the first time since June 2014, Strasburg is 0-2 in four starts against them despite posting a 2.81 ERA. Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter are a combined 7 for 18 with three doubles against Strasburg.

St. Louis totaled 45 runs and 66 hits while winning four of five before managing three hits and striking out 11 times in Thursday's 3-0 loss at Arizona.

"These guys swing the bat pretty well, and we were just trying to make them uncomfortable," Arizona catcher Chris Herrmann said.

Carpenter was 6 for 16 with five RBIs over the 4-1 stretch before going hitless in four at-bats Thursday.