Yanks attempt to slow down Harper and the Nats

(SportsNetwork.com) - Bryce Harper looks to lead the Washington Nationals to a fourth straight win on Tuesday evening in the opener of a two-game series with the New York Yankees.

The Nationals have rolled a victory in nine of their last 11 games, with Harper leading the charge. He is batting .564 over his past 11 contests with nine homers and 22 RBI.

Harper and Danny Espinosa both hit three-run homers in Sunday's 10-5 victory that concluded a four-game series with the San Diego Padres. Harper had three hits, drove in four runs and scored three times.

Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in five-plus innings to earn the win.

"The biggest thing is to stay focused and find the positive in every outing," said Strasburg. "Try to keep going in the right direction."

Getting the call for the Nationals in this opener will be Gio Gonzalez, who is 3-2 with a 4.25 earned run average on the season.

Gonzalez went into his start on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks having allowed two or fewer runs in three of his prior four starts, but was tagged for five runs over five innings of a no-decision. Gonzalez yielded nine hits and walked two, those Washington managed to record a 9-6 win.

The 29-year-old southpaw has struggled over six career starts against the Yankees, going just 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA. He has allowed 30 hits and 22 walks in 32 innings with 33 strikeouts.

While the Nats are on the upswing, the Yankees have lost five of their past six games. They have scored two or fewer runs in each loss over that span, including a 6-0 shutout setback to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Chris Capuano lasted only three-plus innings in his season debut, with the Yankees starter tagged for four runs and four hits.

"We just haven't swung the bats well," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "There's ebbs and flows throughout the season. This was just a bad week for us."

Teixeira is hoping he will be able to contribute to a possible turnaround. He is day-to-day with a right big toe contusion suffered when he was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning on Sunday. He remained in the game until coming out in the seventh.

Nathan Eovaldi aims to rebound from his first loss of the season as he gets the call tonight for the Yankees.

Eovaldi won his first three decisions before suffering a 4-2 road loss to the Tampa Bay Rays last Tuesday. He actually took a shutout into the seventh inning, but ended up yielding all four runs on six hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings of work.

"I felt good," said Eovaldi, who fell to 3-1 with a 4.14 ERA on the season. "I was able to make good pitches with my fastball earlier in the game."

The former Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins right-hander has faced the Nationals seven times prior, going 2-4 with a 4.76 ERA.

Harper is 5-for-13 against Eovaldi lifetime, but has never homered off him.

The Yankees swept a three-game set in Washington when the clubs last met from June 15-17, 2012.