Nationals-Phillies Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies are enjoying their best start in 16

years, and much of the thanks goes to the pitching staff.

Another meeting with the Washington Nationals gives the Phillies

a good chance to become the first team in the NL to 20 wins.

The Phillies look to continue their dominance of the visiting

Nationals in the middle game of this series Wednesday night.

Philadelphia (19-9) owns the best record in the league, as its

staff ranks among the best in baseball with a 3.00 ERA. A rotation

populated by four aces in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and

Cole Hamels has the Phillies off to their best start since going

21-8 to start 1995.

Hamels kept the four-time reigning NL East champions rolling

Tuesday, leading them to a ninth win in 12 games by tossing a

five-hitter in a 4-1 win over the Nationals (14-15).

Their staff has a 2.15 ERA in the last 12 games, helping make up

for the offense’s .238 average – .208 with runners in scoring

position – in that span.

The Phillies, winners of 11 of their last 14 meetings with

Washington, have given the Nationals a strong dose of what their

rotation can do, winning the last three meetings – all of them

complete games behind Halladay, Lee and Hamels.

Getting a fourth in a row is unlikely with fill-in Vance Worley

(1-0, 0.00 ERA) on the hill.

Worley is getting a second start in place of the injured Joe

Blanton, who is on the disabled list with an elbow injury.

Worley proved himself capable of filling in for the veteran

Friday, allowing two hits and four walks with five strikeouts in

six innings of a 10-3 win over New York.

The right-hander was 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in five games – two

starts – last season.

“He’s real calm out there, real calm,” catcher Brian Schneider

told the Phillies’ official website.

Worley got credit for a 7-6 win over the Nationals on Sept. 19,

tossing a scoreless top of the ninth before Philadelphia rallied

for four runs in the bottom of the inning.

Jimmy Rollins has sparked the Phillies thus far in the season

series, going 6 for 17.

The shortstop had a triple and an RBI single in his season debut

in the leadoff spot Tuesday, improving to 9 for 25 over his last

six games overall.

Washington will give Jason Marquis (3-0, 2.62) a chance to win a

fourth consecutive start for the first time since June 3-21, 2008,

when he pitched for the Chicago Cubs.

Matching that streak versus Philadelphia might be a tall task

since he went 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA in five starts against the

Phillies last year. He lost all three of his outings at Citizens

Bank Park, surrendering 14 runs and walking seven in 9 2-3

innings.

Marquis has posted a 2.05 ERA while winning his last three

starts. His most recent effort was his best of the season. He

tossed a five-hitter with seven strikeouts in a 3-0 victory over

San Francisco on Friday, outpitching two-time Cy Young Award winner

Tim Lincecum.

“I’m getting more consistent as time goes on. I feel like I’m

learning more about myself day-by-day and start-by-start,” Marquis

said.

Washington right fielder Jayson Werth went 0 for 3 on Tuesday in

his first game back in Philadelphia since signing a $126 million,

seven-year deal with the Nationals. He’s 3 for 14 against his

former team this year.