Phillies-Nationals Preview

The Washington Nationals’ bats have been relatively quiet lately, but it’s something Gio Gonzalez has been used to all season.

The Nationals will try to back him with more offense in Thursday night’s opener of a four-game home series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Nationals (58-47) are among the top-scoring NL teams with 4.2 runs per contest. However, they’ve managed 14 in their last five games, though they avoided a sweep with a 4-3 win over Miami on Wednesday to conclude a nine-game road trip.

Gonzalez (6-6, 3.56 ERA) has become accustomed to a lack of scoring, going 3-5 in his last 12 starts despite a 3.80 ERA. He’s received three or fewer runs of support 11 times in that span.

The left-hander limited Cincinnati to a run and four hits over seven innings Saturday but suffered a 1-0 defeat. He’s posted a 1.66 ERA in his last six starts.

"You have to keep working. I will never be satisfied until the season is over," Gonzalez told MLB’s official website. "It’s one of those things where you try to do your best and try to minimize damage as much as possible."

Gonzalez has gone 5-3 with a 2.48 ERA in nine career matchups with Philadelphia. He suffered another tough-luck 1-0 defeat May 4 after limiting the Phillies to a run in 7 1-3 innings.

Washington may be due for a big offensive performance given its recent history against Philadelphia at Nationals Park. The Nationals, who lead the season series 6-3, have won 12 of the last 14 meetings there while averaging 6.1 runs.

Jayson Werth has batted .346 with 26 RBIs in his last 29 matchups with his former team. He’s hit .412 with 10 RBIs in his past nine home games overall.

Werth is 11 for 30 with four extra-base hits against Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.37), who has struggled in two starts since returning from a strained left elbow, surrendering nine runs and 21 hits in 10 2-3 innings.

"It looks like he’s still building up arm strength and the ball’s still not coming out crisp and darting with some life at home plate," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He’s lacking that right now along with the command."

The left-hander didn’t get a decision after yielding three runs in five innings of a 10-6 loss to Arizona on Saturday.

Lee gave up two runs – one earned – and four hits over seven innings of a 5-3 loss to Washington on May 2, not getting a decision. He’s 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 12 career starts against the Nationals.

Phillies relievers gave up seven runs – five earned – over two innings of an 11-2 defeat to the New York Mets on Wednesday. The bullpen has posted a 6.70 ERA during the team’s 5-10 stretch.

The last-place Phillies (47-61) continue to be involved in trade speculation ahead of Thursday’s deadline.