Nats try to secure sweep in Kansas City

The Washington Nationals will try for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon as their interleague set with the Kansas City Royals comes to a close.

Led by an impressive pitching performance from Jordan Zimmermann as well as a four-run fourth inning, the Nationals were able to dismiss the Royals on Saturday, 7-2.

Zimmermann (15-7) allowed just two earned runs over 7 2/3 innings while striking out seven, and he's now tied with the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright for the National League lead in wins.

"I had four pitches working and when I have that going, it's usually a fun night to be out there," Zimmermann said. "And the offense got some runs early and allowed me to settle in."

Leading the offensive attack was Ian Desmond and Chad Tracy, each of whom had a pair of RBI -- Desmond's coming from his 18th home run of the season. Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore both finished with two hits, a run scored and a RBI.

Earning the loss for the Royals was Wade Davis (6-10), who was charged with all seven runs over the course of six innings. Davis's nightmare season continues, as he sits with a 5.67 ERA.

Eric Hosmer tallied an RBI single in the second inning in the losing effort, while Mike Moustakas added an RBI single of his own in the eighth.

On Sunday afternoon, Dan Haren will toe the rubber for the Nationals. The 11- year veteran has been disappointing in his first season in Washington, sporting an 8-11 record with a 4.64 ERA.

Despite his struggles this year, Haren has been one of the league's most impressive hurlers in August, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA while even recording a save on Aug. 17. In his latest start on Aug. 20, Haren struck out six over six innings of work in a win over the Cubs, allowing just five hits and one earned run while walking none.

"He's been really pitching good," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "He's shown he's a quality pitcher and he's bounced back (since returning from the disabled list in early July) and pitched great.

Haren's impressive performance in August has been a departure from the trend he's set over the course of his career, as he has just a 4.21 ERA in over 360 career innings in the month.

Ervin Santana will get the call for the Royals. Also in his first season with a new squad, Santana has been a huge boost to Kansas City's staff, going 8-7 with a 3.13 ERA.

Santana was the hard-luck loser on Aug. 20 against the White Sox, where he allowed just one earned run over six innings of work while striking out five. He's now gone winless in three straight outings after coming out victorious in three of his previous for starts.

The 30-year-old right-hander has yet to earn a decision in three career starts against the Nationals, although he owns an impressive 3.10 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.

Santana will try to help the Royals avoid getting swept in a series by the Nationals franchise for the first time since the Montreal Expos pulled off a three-game sweep at home from June 18-20, 2002.