The Washington Nationals have so far not allowed a streaking NL East rival to cut into their sizable lead in the division.
That’s because the Nationals are close to securing their longest winning stretch in nine seasons and will try to claim that Wednesday night by adding to their recent success against the scuffling Arizona Diamondbacks.
Washington (71-53) has remained six games in front of Atlanta even though the Braves have won five in a row after an 11-3 thumping of Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Nationals earned their eighth consecutive victory the same night by easily handling Arizona 8-1.
After winning the previous three games in the last at-bat, Washington scored six runs in the third inning with Asdrubal Cabrera doubling in three and Ian Desmond hitting the first of a pair of two-run singles.
"I think we’re just coming together," said Desmond, whose four RBIs were one shy of tying a career high. "We’ve kind of established our way, I guess you would say."
The Nationals haven’t won nine in a row since a franchise record-tying 10-game streak June 2-12, 2005, and will also seek their first eight-game home win streak since July 25-Aug. 9, 2009.
Another matchup with the Diamondbacks (53-73) could help Washington get there.
The Nationals have won 12 of the past 16 matchups and six of the last seven at home. Arizona is also 5-12 this month and has lost 16 of 24 on the road.
The Diamondbacks, though, will start Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.68 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts this month. He won his second straight decision Friday and allowed two runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-2 victory in Miami.
Cahill is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in his last two starts against Washington but hasn’t faced the Nationals this season. He gave up six runs and eight hits over five innings in his lone matchup in 2013, a 7-5 road loss June 25.
Washington’s Tanner Roark (12-7, 2.93) will seek his sixth win in eight starts after a 5-4 victory against Pittsburgh on Friday. He gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings in that game, two on one swing from Starling Marte.
He has a 4.26 ERA this month after posting a 1.29 ERA in his final four starts in July, but most of the damage in August came from a 7-3 defeat to Baltimore. The right-hander gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings in that game.
"Just got to let it happen. Keep doing what you’re doing," he told MLB’s official website. "Keep your routine. No need to change anything. Don’t fix nothing that’s not broken. Just go out there and pitch like I know I can."
Roark did not get a decision in his only start against Arizona on Sept. 29. He allowed one unearned run, three hits and one walk over seven innings in a 3-2 loss.
The Diamondbacks will try to avoid their first five-game losing streak since a season-worst six-game skid April 11-16.
Jayson Werth, who went 3 for 5 and drove in a run Tuesday, is 5 for 7 with two doubles against Cahill in his career.