Phillies-Nationals Preview

Max Scherzer was superb against the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend but again didn’t get enough assistance to earn his first win with the Washington Nationals.

In his rematch with the Phillies on Friday night, Scherzer will try to send that club to its sixth consecutive defeat and add to its worst road start in 27 years.

Scherzer yielded one run in six innings at Philadelphia on Sunday, striking out eight for the second time in as many starts in the Nationals’ 4-3, 10-inning win. The right-hander lost 3-1 to the New York Mets in his Nationals debut April 6 when he gave up three unearned runs in 7 2-3 innings.

Scherzer has received a combined three runs of support and Washington has committed three errors in those outings, but manager Matt Williams doesn’t think that fazes his $210 million starter.

"Anything that happens around him, it doesn’t bother him," Williams said. "On any given day that he goes out and pitches, he’s intense, he’s workmanlike and he goes about his business."

Sunday’s loss started the Phillies (3-7) on their five-game skid and they dropped to 0-4 on the road with a 5-2 defeat in Thursday’s series opener. Philadelphia lost its first six away from home in 1988.

The Phillies had five hits Thursday and are batting .215 with 24 runs. Ryan Howard went 1 for 3 with an intentional walk after being dropped from the cleanup spot to seventh, the lowest he’s batted since April 2006.

He’s hitting .167 with one RBI and has 10 strikeouts in 30 at-bats.

"If (Howard) could get hot, then I’d have some flexibility and choices in the lineup, so that would be the best scenario, to have five or six guys get hot and have him included in that," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

The Nationals have scored 22 runs in their last three games after managing 17 in the first seven. They needed just six hits to secure their first win streak of 2015 on Thursday.

Michael Taylor provided the tiebreaking solo homer in the fifth and Yunel Escobar went deep in the first. Escobar has a .400 average in his last six games against Philadelphia.

Washington got five hits off Sean O’Sullivan in his six innings Sunday after being called up from the minors. He left with the Phillies trailing 2-1 but Darin Ruf allowed him to avoid a loss in his first matchup with Washington with a seventh-inning home run.

"I was happy being able to get through six there," O’Sullivan told MLB’s official website. "And with Scherzer on the other side, to be able to limit damage when I got in a little trouble there, I kept the crooked numbers off the board."

O’Sullivan hasn’t earned a win since May 12, 2011 with Kansas City, losing his last seven decisions.