National League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, September 27th (All times Eastern)
Washington Nationals (94-61) at Philadelphia Phillies (78-77), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Gio Gonzalez (20-8, 2.84) Philadelphia - Tyler Cloyd (2-1, 3.86)
(Sports Network) - Gio Gonzalez will try to strengthen his case for the NL Cy Young Award and pitch the Washington Nationals a little closer to a division title on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
After failing in his first attempt at win No. 20, Gonzalez became the first pitcher in baseball to reach the milestone this season with a victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. The left-hander logged seven innings and was touched for just a pair of unearned runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five.
Gonzalez has won seven of his last nine starts to move to 20-8 with a 2.84 earned run average in 31 outings this season. His 201 strikeouts rank fourth in the NL.
"It doesn't feel like a 20th win for myself. It feels like a 20th win for the team," Gonzalez admitted. "This is a childhood dream, but to do it with a team like this, that's in first place, makes it that much better."
The 27-year-old won his first two career starts against the Phillies before taking a loss to them at Philadelphia on Aug. 25. He lost a 4-2 decision, touched for three runs over six innings.
After losing Tuesday's opener, the Nationals reduced their magic number for winning the NL East to four in the second game of this series by rolling to an 8-4 win.
Bryce Harper drove in three runs, two on a homer, and former Phillie Jayson Werth added a key two-run single late. Kurt Suzuki also went deep for Washington, which halted a five-game slide in Philadelphia and won for just the second time in its last nine encounters with the club.
John Lannan worked 5 1/3 innings for the win, allowing only five hits and two runs with three strikeouts.
"It felt good to get runs in the first inning. In the past, things didn't go my way here," said Lannan after helping the Nats maintain a four-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for first place in the standings.
Jimmy Rollins homered for the Phillies, who have dropped three of four and are on the verge of being eliminated from the wild card race.
Kyle Kendrick recorded just six outs for Philadelphia, charged in defeat with five hits and five runs -- four earned -- over two-plus frames.
"On Harper's home run, it wasn't a bad pitch. He put a good swing on it. The home run to Suzuki was a pretty good pitch, too," said Kendrick. "But most of the night, I was behind in the count, up in the zone. That's what happens."
Young right-hander Tyler Cloyd gets the call for the Phillies tonight having won both of his decisions over four starts since losing his MLB debut on Aug. 29.
Cloyd is coming off an excellent outing at the New York Mets last Thursday, logging the longest start of his career with eight innings of one-run ball. The 25-year-old also scattered three hits and two walks while striking out six.
Cloyd has a 3.86 ERA through his five starts and faces the Nats for the first time.
09/27 10:35:45 ET