Nationals-Rockies Preview

Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams insists his team will bounce back from a losing streak that has matched its longest of the year.

The Nationals likely can’t afford stumbling against last-place opposition, though have already lost a series to the Colorado Rockies.

They’ll send Jordan Zimmermann and his 5-0 career mark against the Rockies to the mound in Tuesday night’s three-game series opener in Denver.

Washington (58-59) has matched a six-game slide from April 22-27 as its worst of the year. The Nationals haven’t dropped seven straight since losing eight in a row from Aug. 28-Sept. 5, 2009.

Williams’ club has been outscored 36-12 in this skid after Sunday’s 5-0 defeat at San Francisco. He said he wouldn’t have the team do anything on Monday’s off day.

Washington is below .500 for the first time since being 14-15 on May 7. It trails the New York Mets by 4 1/2 games in the NL East.

”It will be good to give the guys a day off, get away from the game,” Williams said. ”You have to look at where we are, look at the big picture. If we win some games we jump right back into this.”

Bryce Harper is 4 for 18 over Washington’s last six games, Anthony Rendon is 3 for 22, Ryan Zimmerman is 1 for 19 with 10 strikeouts and Yunel Escobar is 4 for 24.

The Nationals began this 10-game trip after losing two of three to Colorado (48-68) at home from Aug. 7-9. Carlos Gonzalez was 4 for 12 with three homers and six RBIs for the Rockies and Nolan Arenado was 5 for 12 with a homer and three runs.

Zimmermann (8-8, 3.34 ERA) started the opener of that series and allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings as the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the eighth of a 5-4 defeat. He is 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA in eight starts against Colorado, including 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in four on the road.

The Nationals have lost the last four starts by the right-hander, who is 0-3 with a 3.68 ERA in six since the All-Star break. He gave up one run and two hits in seven innings in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Los Angeles Dodgers.

Colorado ended a six-game slide with Sunday’s 5-0 victory over San Diego as Chris Rusin pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout.

”You don’t get to see that very often, a complete-game shutout here,” manager Walt Weiss said.

DJ LeMahieu’s seven-game hitting streak in which he batted .391 ended as he went 0 for 2 with a walk. LeMahieu is 5 for 11 versus Zimmermann and Arenado is 4 for 9 with a homer.

The Rockies will activate right-hander David Hale (3-4, 5.69) and give him his first start since July 4. Hale, who was out with a groin strain, will replace the demoted Eddie Butler in the rotation.

Hale made three appearances with one start against the Nationals last year with Atlanta, totaling 6 1-3 scoreless innings.

Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes has one hit in seven straight games and has hit safely in all six at home with the club.