Major League Baseball
Preview
Philadelphia at Washington
When: 7:05 PM ET, Thursday, July 31, 2014
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia


Having survived a nine-game road trip to maintain a slight lead atop the National League East, the Washington Nationals return home to host the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series. The Nationals have a chance to create separation in the division with eight straight and 18 of their next 24 games at Nationals Park, where they are 30-20. Washington has won six of nine versus the Phillies, including a three-game home sweep in early June.

The Nationals, who have won nine of their last 12 overall at home, averted a three-game sweep by winning the series finale at Miami on Wednesday to finish 5-4 on their road trip. Philadelphia is 5-8 since the All-Star break and faces an uncertain future with a number of their players rumored to be on the trading block, including Thursday's scheduled starter Cliff Lee. "Just continue to battle," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It's fun to win games."

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, MASN2 (Washington)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies LH Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.78 ERA) vs. Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (6-6, 3.56)

Lee is making his third start since spending more than two months on the disabled list and will be hoping for better results than his previous two turns. The 35-year-old allowed three runs on nine hits in a no-decision versus Arizona on Saturday after getting knocked around for six runs on 12 hits by San Francisco on July 21. Lee is 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 12 starts against Washington, including seven innings of two-run ball on May 2.

Gonzalez was a hard-luck loser last time out, permitting one run on four hits over seven innings in a 1-0 defeat at Cincinnati to extend his winless drought to three starts. Gonzalez had an identical line over 7 1/3 innings in a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia on May 4 to fall to 5-3 with a stellar 2.48 ERA against the Phillies. Gonzalez has stymied slugger Ryan Howard, holding him hitless in 11 at-bats with six strikeouts.

WALK-OFFS

1. Nationals CF Denard Span has reached base safely in 25 consecutive games.

2. Phillies 3B Cody Asche is batting .375 with two homers and six RBIs in 13 games against the Nationals.

3. Washington has failed to homer in its last seven games.

PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Phillies 2
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Philadelphia 47-61 L1 22-33 25-28 19-28 12-14 15-11 1-8
Washington 58-47 W1 30-20 28-27 20-16 14-16 16-7 8-8
Last Meeting
Philadelphia Washington
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/13/14 WAS 10 PHI 3 .156 0 .425 .324 2 .891
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Philadelphia J. Rollins .324 11 .983
Washington D. Span .333 13 .802
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Philadelphia J. Rollins 2 6 3
Washington A. Rendon 2 9 7
Pitching ERA Avg K
Philadelphia 4.78 .228 68
Washington 2.51 .241 81
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Philadelphia B. Revere .301 110 .682
Washington D. Span .287 115 .740
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Philadelphia M. Byrd 20 53 60
Washington I. Desmond 17 41 64
Pitching ERA Avg K
Philadelphia 4.06 .241 842
Washington 3.11 .249 851