Nationals hope to stop skid against Phillies

Erick Fedde will step on the mound Friday night for the eighth time in his major league career still in search of his first win. He might get it if he can replicate his recent success against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Fedde will try to help the Washington Nationals stop a three-game losing streak on Friday night in the second of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will send Nick Pivetta to the mound for his second straight start against Washington.

Facing the Phillies last Saturday, Fedde (0-3, 5.32 ERA) had the best outing of his brief major league career. He went six-plus innings, giving up three runs on eight hits while inducing 13 ground balls. However, the Phillies scored two runs in the eighth inning in a 5-3 win.

“I thought Fedde did a tremendous job,” Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom told MLB.com after the game. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He did, he mixed all five pitches — sliders, curveballs, changeups, cutters in, fastballs. He did a good job. I thought he attacked hitters and at the beginning, we were kind of (nibbling), but after that he really attacked.”

Fedde, 25, has pitched at least five innings in all four of his 2018 starts with the Nationals.

Saturday’s game was his first career appearance against the Phillies.

Pivetta (4-6, 4.06) also had a solid outing without a win last weekend. On Sunday night, Pivetta stayed in the game after a rain delay to complete five innings in Washington. He gave up eight hits but just two runs and notched seven strikeouts before the Nationals rallied against the Philadelphia bullpen.

The right-hander has a 5.81 ERA and opponents are hitting .301 against Pivetta in five June starts, but he has allowed just four runs and recorded 20 strikeouts in his last two appearances (12 1/3 innings).

Pivetta was acquired by the Phillies from Washington in exchange for reliever Jonathan Papelbon during the 2015 season. He is 0-2 with a 9.19 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals. His May 4 start against the Nationals has a lot to do with the high ERA, because he gave up six runs in one inning.

The Phillies opened the series with a 4-3 win on Thursday night. At 43-36, the Phillies are two games ahead of the Nationals (41-38) and just two games behind the Braves for first place in the National League East.

Philadelphia has won its last two games and Rhys Hoskins homered in both. In Thursday night’s series opener, the left fielder went 3-for-4 with a double and a two-run homer, his 13th of the season.

“Rhys had another huge (homer) for us,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after his team improved to 4-3 against the Nationals this season.

Hoskins, 25, is hitting .329 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 18 games during June, raising his season average to .260 and his OPS to .871. Hoskins has just a .224 average in 14 career games against the Nationals, but eight of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases.

Washington, which managed to score three runs — two in the ninth inning — after being shut out in consecutive games, has lost 10 of 13.