Nationals-Phillies Preview

As Jayson Werth went, so seemed to go the Washington Nationals

when they lost two of three to the Philadelphia Phillies last

month.

The ex-Phillie hopes to be better in his initial return to

Citizens Bank Park while trying to help the Nationals snap their

four-game skid in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

Werth hit .282 with 95 homers and 300 RBIs while spending the

last four seasons with Philadelphia, reaching the 2009 All-Star

Game after helping the Phillies win the 2008 World Series. That

success enabled him to sign a hefty $126 million, seven-year

contract with Washington in December.

He called his first meetings with the Phillies from April 12-14

“business as usual.” Though he went 2 for 3 with a homer in a 7-4

win in the series opener, Werth was 1 for 8 with four strikeouts

while the Nationals (14-14) dropped the final two games.

Werth is batting just .233 with four homers and seven RBIs in 27

games with his new team. He was hitless in three of the Nationals’

last four games, but they took three of four against San Francisco

to conclude a 4-3 homestand.

Tom Gorzelanny threw eight solid innings in the Nationals’ 2-0

victory over the Giants on Monday.

However, trying to surpass the .500 mark for the first time

since April 20 could be a major challenge for Washington, which is

9-27 at Philadelphia since 2007. The Nationals have been outscored

27-9 during the four-game road skid against the Phillies.

Werth has never faced former teammate and scheduled starter Cole

Hamels (3-1, 3.13 ERA), who is 5-0 with a 3.04 ERA in eight starts

against the Nationals since last losing to them April 2, 2008.

Hamels has allowed five runs and struck out 31 over 29 innings

while going 3-0 his last four outings overall since he gave up six

runs in 2 2-3 innings in a loss to the Mets in his 2011 debut.

The left-hander yielded three runs and struck out eight in seven

innings of an 8-4 win at Arizona on Wednesday.

“You’re not necessarily going to have good games all of the

time,” Hamels told the Phillies’ official website. “Just knowing

that, you have to earn your end of the bargain and come away with

the victory.”

Philadelphia (18-9) has lost just three of its last 11 games,

but the latest came 2-1 in 14 innings to the Mets on Sunday. The

Phillies managed just seven hits in that contest.

“Try to forget about it and come back Tuesday,” said slugger

Ryan Howard, who drove in the lone run.

Batting .324 with 13 RBIs his last nine games, Howard was just 1

for 10 at Washington last month. However, he has a homer and eight

RBIs during an eight-game home hitting streak against the

Nationals.

Howard is 5 for 27 (.185) against scheduled Washington starter

Livan Hernandez, but three of those hits left the park. One of

those home runs came in last month’s loss the Nationals.

Hernandez (3-2, 3.23), who allowed three runs – two earned – in

eight innings of a 4-3 win over the Mets on Thursday, is 2-1 with a

2.25 ERA against Philadelphia since rejoining the Nationals in

August 2009.

“He just knows how to pitch,” Phillies center fielder Shane

Victorino said. “That’s why he’s been successful and why he’s been

doing it for so long.”

The lone run the right-hander gave up in 6 2-3 innings against

the Phillies last month came on the Howard homer.