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Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Phillies-Nationals Preview

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Dan Haren appears to have finally found his groove, but he has never beaten the Philadelphia Phillies.

Former Washington Nationals starter John Lannan, meanwhile, has given his previous team fits this year.

Haren takes the mound opposite Lannan, who returns to the nation's capital for the first time Friday night when the slumping Nationals open a three-game set against the Phillies.

Haren (6-11, 5.14 ERA) has figured things out since coming off the disabled list last month, posting a 2.40 ERA over his last five starts while striking out 32 in 30 innings.

"Going on the DL was a chance to regroup," he told the team's official website. "Physically, I felt fine. It allowed me to hit reset and try to cut the year into two parts - leave the first part behind and try to move on, move past it and try to help the team."

Haren enters the weekend looking to win a third consecutive start after throwing seven innings of four-hit ball in a 3-0 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday.

"He's been throwing very well for us," manager Davey Johnson said.

Haren now turns his attention to the Phillies - the only big league club he's yet to defeat. The right-hander has gone 0-4 in seven career starts versus Philadelphia (52-62) while compiling a 5.54 ERA - his second-highest mark against any team.

He has been frustrated by Michael Young (22 for 66) and Delmon Young, but Haren won't have to worry about facing the latter.

The Phillies designated Delmon Young for assignment on Friday and made room for outfielder Casper Wells.

After spending the first six years of his career with the Nationals, Lannan (3-4, 4.10), who signed with Philadelphia this offseason, has gone 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two home meetings against his former club.

The left-hander scattered four hits over a season high-tying eight scoreless innings opposite Haren in a 3-2 win July 8.

"Just like when he was with us, he's going to have starts where he throws well like he did tonight," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said of Lannan after that game. "(No.) 3, 4, 5 guy, whatever you want to call it. But tonight he had his good stuff."

Adam LaRoche is hitless in 15 at-bats versus Lannan, and Anthony Rendon, Scott Hairston, Ian Desmond and Denard Span are a combined 0 for 21. Jayson Werth, though, is 10 for 29 with four homers in their matchups. Werth is batting .404 with nine homers, 25 RBIs and 25 runs during a 34-game stretch.

Pitching on three days' rest, Lannan yielded four runs - two earned - in 4 1-3 innings Saturday in a 5-4, 12-inning loss to Atlanta. He'll try to bounce back against a Nationals team that is an NL-worst 8-18 since July 8.

Washington (54-60), which has gone 3 for 30 with runners in scoring position during a four-game losing streak, went 0 for 4 in such situations Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to Atlanta. The second-place Nationals dropped 15 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Braves.

"Lot of ground to make up," Johnson said. "But you never know what can happen in this game. If nothing else, get our pride back by playing better."

The Phillies had lost 13 of 14 before taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs. John McDonald, Cody Asche, and Darin Ruf all hit two-run homers in Thursday's 12-1 victory as Philadelphia won its first series since the All-Star break.

Chase Utley, who was in the final season of a seven-year, $85 million contract, agreed to a new two-year, $27 million deal Thursday. Utley is hitting .333 with two homers and eight RBIs in his last nine games.

Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel is one win away from becoming the 59th manager in major league history to reach 1,000 for his career.

Tagged: Nationals, Phillies, John McDonald, Michael Young, Dan Haren, Delmon Young, John Lannan

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