The Washington Nationals are back in the win column.
The Philadelphia Phillies would like to get there again.
The NL East rivals begin a three-game series Monday night when the Nationals go for their fifth consecutive victory at Citizens Bank Park.
Washington (24-17) snapped a three-game losing streak and salvaged a 3-4 homestand Sunday with a 9-3 victory over AL East-leading Baltimore. Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond each had two hits and two RBIs, while Stephen Strasburg pitched only five innings but chipped in two hits and his first career homer.
The Nationals, 1 1/2 games behind division-leading Atlanta, now open a stretch of 15 consecutive games against East rivals with their first visit to Philadelphia this season. Washington swept four games in its last series at Citizens Bank Park from Sept. 20-22.
Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.22 ERA) will make his first start in Philadelphia on Monday after throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a 7-1 home victory May 5 that extended the Nationals' winning streak over the Phillies to seven. Philadelphia ended that run the following day with a 9-3, series-ending victory.
The major league leader with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, Gonzalez has struck out 26 while winning his last three starts. He fanned a season-best 10 in seven innings of Wednesday's 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh.
"You don't see a lot of left-handers that can go 92, 94 (mph), and pitch it in," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the Nationals' official website.
The last time Gonzalez won four consecutive starts was his last four outings with Oakland last Sept. 12-28.
The Phillies (21-21) were hoping to be on a nice run heading into this series, but instead they're looking to avoid a third consecutive loss following a season-best six-game winning streak. Philadelphia went 3 for 21 with runners in scoring position while dropping its last two games to Boston over the weekend.
"We hit some balls hard early but we couldn't get any big hits and drive runs in," manager Charlie Manuel said following Sunday's 5-1 defeat.
Philadelphia continues its six-game homestand with Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 5.96) getting another start in place of Vance Worley (right elbow inflammation). Kendrick went six strong innings in Wednesday's 9-2 road win over the Chicago Cubs.
It was the right-hander first start since throwing five innings of one-run ball in a 4-3, 11-inning loss versus Washington on May 4.
Kendrick is 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts against the Nationals.
Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco is hoping to be ready for the series opener after being out of the starting lineup in each of the last four games with a sprained left ankle. He is 3 for 11 with a homer off Gonzalez.
Right fielder Hunter Pence, 10 for 24 with three homers in his last six games, went 5 for 14 with three home runs in the series at Washington earlier this month.
Bryce Harper was 2 for 10 in that series, including a steal of home in the finale after getting hit with a pitch by Cole Hamels, who would be suspended five games for admitting he intentionally threw the ball at the 19-year-old rookie.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman will get his first look at Phillies pitching this season after missing the last series with right shoulder inflammation. Zimmerman, who went 7 for 15 over the weekend against Baltimore, is 10 for 22 off Kendrick with a homer and seven doubles.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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