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Nationals eye eighth straight win vs. D-backs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals can suddenly handle their business in close games, but when Stephen Strasburg is on the mound and working effectively, it often times doesn't matter.

The former No. 1 overall pick returns to the mound for the Nationals -- who've won seven in a row -- when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks in game two of a four-game series Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Five of the seven wins in the latest streak have come by one run, including the last four in a row. The run has helped the Nationals open up a six-game lead over Atlanta in the National League's East Division.

Washington hasn't won eight straight in two years.

Strasburg was back to his ace self in his most recent start, allowing a single unearned run in seven innings while allowing three hits and striking out eight in a 4-1 defeat of the New York Mets.

He's struck out 27 batters in three August starts.

"We look at Stras as our horse," Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez said. "He will always be our ace. He has such talent and is willing to learn more."

He's also 7-1 with a 2.20 earned run average in his last 12 appearances at Nationals Park, and has won two of three career decisions against Arizona while putting up a 2.53 ERA.

The Diamondbacks did beat him in the most recent matchup, however, tagging him for three runs on eight hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win on May 13.

Arizona, though, had won just eight of its last 23 road games.

The Diamondbacks aim to reverse those fortunes with red hot Chase Anderson, who's won two straight decisions and had surrendered two or fewer runs in five straight outings before Miami nicked him for three runs in six innings on Thursday.

The bullpen didn't hold a lead and the Diamondbacks lost, 5-4, in 10 innings.

Anderson has never faced the Nationals.

On Monday, Adam LaRoche hit a two-out walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th to give Washington a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks.

Anthony Rendon lined out to right to start the frame and Jayson Werth struck out swinging for the second out of the inning. With the count at 3-1, LaRoche sent a curveball by Will Harris (0-3) over the bullpen in right to win the game. The Nationals won their third in a row in walk-off fashion.

Craig Stammen (3-4) allowed the D-backs to load the bases in the top of the 11th, but retired the next three batters, striking out two of them, to earn the win.

Arizona has lost its last three games and six of eight overall.

08/19 11:02:24 ET