Nats try to break the brooms out on Phils

As Washington first baseman Chad Tracy sees it, the Nationals' early-season success isn't a mirage. It's time for others in the NL to recognize the first-place team in the NL East.

Aiming for a fifth straight win overall and an eighth consecutive victory against the Phillies, the NL East leaders hope to complete a three-game sweep tonight at Nationals Park.

"We're going to come out and keep doing what we've been doing hopefully," Tracy said. "I think everybody will recognize that we're for real. We know it. Now it's just a matter of everybody else figuring it out."

The Nats have won 11 of their last 13 against the Phillies. This is the longest winning streak for the Nationals franchise over the Phillies since the 1989 Montreal Expos won eight in a row over them.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson isn't shocked his team is in position to sweep the series against the five-time defending division champions.

"I think what we're doing right now is reaffirming we can play with them," he said.

For the Nationals to complete the whitewash, they'll need a strong start from Jordan Zimmermann, who suffered a 5-1 loss to Arizona on Tuesday. In that game, the right-hander allowed eight hits and three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings. He's 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA in three starts vs. Philadelphia.

The Phillies counter with Cole Hamels, who is 3-0 over his last four starts since a season-opening loss to Miami. The lefty is 10-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 20 games against the Nationals.

Yesterday, Jayson Werth clubbed a three-run home run against his former team in Washington's 7-1 victory. Tracy hit a two-run home run and Ian Desmond added a solo shot. Gio Gonzalez (3-1) lasted seven innings and gave up just one run on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Carlos Ruiz drove in the lone run for the Phillies, who have dropped three of their last four. Vance Worley (2-2) was touched for five runs on 11 hits over six innings to take the loss.

"They got great starting pitching over there and they got guys that can hit," said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel about Washington. "They got a good team over there and that's why they're in first place."