Still playing in the capital.

The Phillies (22-24) continue their three games visit to Washington, D.C. with their second game at the Nationals’ (20-26) new home, Nationals Park. The game starts tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phils will be sending out their ace, Cole Hamels (5-3, 2.89), who is coming off his first complete game shut out victory against the Atlanta Braves on May 15, giving up no runs on four hits and strking out six, in the Phillies’ 5-0 win. Hamels has won three of his last four starts, with the Phils’ winning the other one, as he goes twenty-nine and one third innings, giving up only ten earned runs on twenty-two hits and striking out twenty-four. His career record against the Nationals is 4-3 with a 2.49 ERA in ten starts, including his previous start against them this year, where he was involved in a pitcher’s duel with Tim Redding on April 2, going eight full innings, giving up an earned run on five hits, as he took the lost, in the Phils’ 1-0 defeat. He hopes to improve his record while ending the Phillies’ present losing streak at three games. The Nationals will counter with Jason Bergmann (1-1, 7.45), who is coming off a shut out victory of his own, as he pitched seven scoreless innings against the New York Mets, also on May 15, giving up no runs on three hits, in the Nationals’ 1-0 win. In his other three starts he got hammered pretty hard, including his April 3 start against the Phils, receiving a no-decision, as he went five and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, in the Nationals’ 8-7 lost. He’ll be looking to improve his record, while trying to continue the Phils’ offensive woos.

The Phils’ offense has not been doing well in their last three games, leaving too many men on in scoring positions. For some reason, they are not getting the big hit when they need it. Just as badly, they don’t seems to be playing small ball, moving players into scoring position, hitting sac flies to score runners from third, being patient at the plate, taking pitches when ahead in the count, defending the plate with two strikes, waiting for the pitcher to throw their pitch, etc. Although they are suppose to be a runs producing team, they don’t seems to be doing the little things that helps to bring in runs, and it seems to have cost them their last three games. It’s obvious that Charlie Manuel and the coaching staff needs to remind them about that particular aspect of the game, and soon, if they want to get into the playoff at the end of the year. The Phils also need to start beating up on weak teams, as they are presently 8-8 in their last sixteen games playing against teams who are .500 or worst, losing two of their last three series.

The third place Phillies are a game and a half behind the National League East leading Marlins and a full game behind the Mets, while a half game ahead of the Braves. The Marlins will start a three games series with the best team in the National League, the Diamondbacks, in Miami, while the Mets will be playing the Braves in Atlanta for four games. The Phils hope to do better during their next two games with the Nationals, and during their four game set in Houston, so that they can get back to challenging for first place.

Edit: The Braves and Mets have finished the first games of a doubleheader, while the Braves have won 6-1, putting the Braves .001 percentage points ahead of the Phils and .001 percentage points behind the Mets, while all three teams are now a game and a half behind the Marlins. The second game is presently in a rain delay. Meanwhile, the Phils’ offensive troubles continues as Pat Burrell strands two runners on base, with one in scoring position.

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