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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, May 2nd (All times Eastern)

Washington Nationals (16-12) at Philadelphia Phillies (13-13), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 4.24) Philadelphia - Cliff Lee (3-2, 3.29)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Another chapter of the National League East rivalry between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies commences Friday with the first of three straight games at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nationals went 11-8 against the Phillies last season, but won just four of the 10 matchups in south Philadelphia. The Nationals are 7-2 in the past nine games in this series.

Washington opened a five-game road trip by taking both portions of a two-game set against the Houston Astros and posted the quick sweep thanks to Wednesday's 7-0 blanking at Minute Maid Park. A four-run fourth inning and excellent pitching from Jordan Zimmermann propelled the Nats to their fifth win in seven tries and right behind Atlanta for the NL East lead.

"I didn't feel as good as I would have liked," Zimmermann said. "They got me some runs early, so I settled down."

Zimmermann struck out seven batters and walked one through s 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed seven hits and was aided by Anthony Rendon offensively. Rendon finished 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, while Danny Espinosa went deep for Washington, which is without star outfielder Bryce Harper because of thumb surgery. Harper will miss about a month or more.

The Nats were also without first baseman Adam LaRoche because of a sore right quadriceps. He is day-to-day and batting .312 with four homers and 17 RBI.

The Nationals are unbeaten in their last three road games and hope another staff ace can get the job done Friday. Stephen Strasburg draws the start against the Phillies and is coming off a brilliant outing in last Friday's 11-1 pounding of San Diego.

Strasburg fanned 11 batters and walked two over seven shutout innings. He issued seven hits and has struck out 10 or more batters three times in six starts this season. He is 2-2 so far with a 4.24 ERA.

In six career starts against Philadelphia, the right-handed Strasburg has a 2-1 record and 2.65 ERA across 37 1/3 innings.

The Phillies had two days to rest after Wednesday's finale of a two-game series with the New York Mets was rained out. The game will be made up as a doubleheader for Monday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m. (et).

New York won Tuesday's opener by a 6-1 score and Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels struggled through 4 2/3 innings of work, allowing six runs and eight hits with five walks and three K's.

"I feel truly embarrassed," said Hamels. "I didn't really give anyone a chance. Balls weren't being put in play because I wasn't allowing them to put it in play. It's an embarrassment because I'm not allowing my teammates to get in the game."

Marlon Byrd homered to provide the scoring for the Phillies, who had a two- game win streak halted and were coming off a promising 6-4 road trip.

The Phils will also entertain Toronto for two games on this stay and look to ace left-hander Cliff Lee for a win Friday. Lee did not factor in the outcome of Saturday's 6-5 win at Arizona and allowed five runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in six innings. Lee, who tossed eight shutout innings and struck out 10 on April 21 at Los Angeles, remained 3-2 with a 3.29 ERA in six starts.

Lee, who has lost both of his home appearances this season, has made 11 career starts against the Nationals, going 6-4 with a 2.87 ERA. Lee has issued just four walks in 41 innings this season.

05/02 10:43:22 ET

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