The San Diego Padres' lineup has been quiet over the last week, a main reason the team has dropped three of four.
The Padres look to get their offense on track as they start a four-game road series against the Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
San Diego (10-12) has scored four runs once in the last nine games and gone 11 straight without reaching double digits in hits. The Padres have totaled 16 runs while batting .205 and striking out 56 times in the past seven games.
"We hope that hitting is contagious," manager Bud Black said following a 5-2 loss in Milwaukee on Wednesday. "We've got a couple of guys having good at_bats but the other five or six guys are struggling. We've got to get some hits to build some confidence."
Washington's Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 3.92 ERA) will look to extend San Diego's hitting woes while also building on a pair of strong performances in his last two starts.
The right-hander has allowed three earned runs and struck out 13 over 14 innings over that span, but he split a pair of decisions as poor defense led to a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.
Zimmermann has a 1.95 ERA in five starts against the Padres, but he's received 10 runs of support in posting a 1-2 record. First baseman Yonder Alonso is 3 for 5 with a homer and a double in their matchups.
He will be opposed by Eric Stults (1-2, 4.35), who is coming off his best showing of the season. The left-hander went six innings and allowed one run and three hits in a 3-1 win over San Francisco on Saturday.
'I was able to keep my pitch count down, and I think it was just getting strike one,' Stults said. "I was able to execute some pitches down in the zone. I was able to stay away from the heart of the plate.'
The problem for Stults this season has been the long ball. He has allowed a home run in all four starts, a reason opponents have a .476 slugging percentage against him, by far the highest of any member of the San Diego pitching staff.
Stults didn't allow a homer in his only start against the Nationals, as he gave up one run and four hits over eight innings of a 2-1 win May 18.
Washington (12-10) avoided a third straight loss by scoring four times in the bottom of the ninth of Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Adam LaRoche singled in Jayson Werth for the winning run after Werth tied it with a two-run double on a 3-0 pitch.
"I can't imagine anybody thinking (Werth) was going to swing 3-0 right there. It surprised all of us," LaRoche said. "He came up huge. Big win, needless to say. We needed that one."
LaRoche went 3 for 5 and is batting .360 during a seven-game hitting streak. He also has a seven-game hit streak against San Diego and is batting .346 with four homers and 12 RBIs in his past 14 versus the Padres.
The Associated Press News Service
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