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First-place Nats open series with Cardinals

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals have battled their way to the top of the National League East and hope to stay there when they start a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals Friday at Busch Stadium.

The Nationals are a game ahead of both Atlanta and Miami for the NL East lead, but failed to complete a four-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants with Thursday's 7-1 loss at AT&T Park.

Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson held the Nationals in check by allowing an unearned run in seven innings. Nationals starter Blake Treinen pitched well in defeat and gave up two runs in five innings of work.

"I had trouble commanding my fastball today," Treinen said. "I threw some good changeups in big situations. If I had command of my fastball a little better maybe I could have gone deep in the game like a starter should."

Ryan Zimmerman drove in the lone run for the Nationals, who had won four in a row and are still a solid 10-3 in the last 13 games. They are 5-2 on a 10-game road trip.

Jordan Zimmermann draws the start for Washington Friday and will try to keep his scoreless innings streak going. He hasn't allowed a run in the last 18 innings and tossed a two-hit shutout in Sunday's 6-0 win at San Diego, posting a career-high 12 strikeouts and no walks. Zimmerman retired the first 16 batters he faced.

Zimmermann threw eight scoreless innings in a 7-0 win on June 3 versus Philadelphia and is 5-2 with a 3.17 earned run average. The right-hander is 3-1 in five road starts this season and winless (0-4) in seven career starts against St. Louis.

The Nationals are 6-2 in his last eight trips to the mound.

St. Louis will start a 10-game homestand Friday and have lost three straight and six of the past seven contests at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals went 4-3 on a recent road trip and suffered a 6-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday in the finale of a quick two-game set. Michael Wacha was trying to become the fourth straight Cardinals pitcher to win in shutout fashion, but was touched for four runs in five innings.

"I wasn't very happy with my performance today," Wacha said.

Yadier Molina went 2-for-5 with two RBI, while Jon Jay and Mark Ellis also had two hits apiece for St. Louis, which blew a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinals will also host the Mets and Phillies on this homestand and are expected to activate first baseman Matt Adams off the 15-day disabled list on Friday. Adams was bothered by a strained calf muscle.

Lance Lynn will handle pitching duties for the Cardinals Friday and he has a 6-4 mark to go along with a 3.49 earned run average. Lynn has dropped consecutive starts and is 2-4 in his past six decisions. In last Friday's 3-1 loss at Toronto, Lynn gave up two runs in five innings, struck out six and walked four batters.

The right-handed Lynn has allowed six runs during his two-game slide and is 3-1 in six home starts. He has faced Washington four times (2 starts) in his career and sports a 2-1 mark with a lofty 6.23 ERA.

St. Louis and Washington split a four-game set in DC from April 17-20.

06/13 10:34:58 ET

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