Hoping to avoid their longest losing streak in over a month, the Washington Nationals turn to 16-game winner Gio Gonzalez on Saturday night as they try to even their three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Gonzalez's 16-6 mark gives him the most wins for a Nationals pitcher since the club's relocation from Montreal in 2005. He has posted a 3.23 earned run average over his 25 starts and won his third straight outing on Sunday against the New York Mets.
The left-hander had his shortest outing in six starts, allowing a run over 5 2/3 innings and 110 pitches, but he is still 4-1 in that span.
"This is definitely a team accomplishment," Gonzalez said of his Nats' record 16th win. "I couldn't have done this without them. The bullpen has been our biggest key, and I said it since the beginning: These guys come and clean up our mess. They are constantly working hard for us."
Gonzalez, 26, held the Phillies scoreless over six innings of three-hit ball with nine strikeouts in Philadelphia on May 21, his second win in as many career starts against the club.
It wouldn't be surprising to see Phillies' ace Roy Halladay have 16 wins at this point of the season, but the righty brings just a 7-7 mark into this start with a 3.95 ERA over 18 starts, having spent time on the disabled list this season.
Halladay has won three of his last four outings, going at least seven innings each time, and after allowing four runs over the first three games of that span, he was touched for five runs on Monday versus the Cincinnati Reds over seven innings. The righty still picked up a 12-5 win.
Though the 35-year-old lost his only meeting with the Nats this season, yielding five runs over six innings, he is 11-2 against them in his career with a 2.55 ERA.
Philadelphia beat Washington for the fourth time in the last five meetings on Friday, recording a 4-2 triumph and handing the Nationals their second straight defeat. The NL East leaders haven't dropped three in a row since July 19-21.
Kyle Kendrick stretched his scoreless-innings streak to 21 straight before running into trouble in the seventh. He was eventually charged with two runs in the winning start, while Jimmy Rollins had a key two-run single for the Phils.
"When you get focused on what you're doing and you apply yourself and you stay at it, good things can happen to you," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of his starter. "Kendrick's always been capable of pitching good games."
Jonathan Papelbon worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his 28th save of the season and give Philadelphia its fifth win in seven games.
Edwin Jackson struck out eight over six strong frames, but was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks.
Tyler Moore accounted for the Nats' offense with a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the seventh, while slugging outfielder Michael Morse was forced to exit the game with a right hand contusion after getting hit by a pitch in the first inning. He is unlikely to play tonight.
Washington still leads the division by 6 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves.