Phillies try to right ship versus Nationals

The Philadelphia Phillies are fading quickly in the National League East race and will try to avoid a sweep Wednesday night against a team they’re still ahead of in the standings.

The Phillies host the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game set. Jake Arrieta (9-9, 3.37 ERA) will face Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (7-11, 4.35) at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies (70-62), following a ninth inning meltdown in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss, have fallen 4 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. It ties their largest deficit in the division this season.

They are also 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot after the loss Tuesday. The Phillies are 6-13 in their last 19 games and, including the current series against Washington, have not won any of their last seven series.

“It’s a super difficult loss to swallow. And we’ll be ready to come out and fight (Wednesday),” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “… I don’t worry about this group at all. This group is so tenacious and so resilient, they’re going to get up (Wednesday) and we’re going to be ready to take on Gio Gonzalez. We’re already looking forward to that.”

Arrieta, one of the most-seasoned Phillies’ players and a 2016 World Series champion with the Chicago Cubs, is trying to stop a personal losing streak. Philadelphia has lost all four of Arrieta’s starts in August, though the veteran right-hander has a 3.60 ERA this month and opponents are hitting .226 against him in that span.

Arrieta gave up four runs on six hits, including two homers, and three walks across six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in his last start. It was Arrieta’s third straight outing in which he took a loss.

Arrieta is 1-2 with a 4.89 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in 11 career starts against Washington.

Gonzalez, a fellow 32-year-old, also has picked up three losses in his last three starts.

Gonzalez has struggled in August with a 6.84 ERA in five starts, but he was much sharper in his last outing. Gonzalez allowed one run on seven hits and went seven innings against the New York Mets on Friday. Washington, however, was shut out 3-0.

“It was just one of those games,” Gonzalez told reporters after the game. “I’m happy to turn things around, but I wish I could have been better.”

Gonzalez will be making his 26th career start against the Phillies on Wednesday. He is 11-7 with a 2.69 ERA versus Philadelphia.

The Nationals (67-66), who are eight games behind Atlanta, are 8-7 against the Phillies this season after taking the first two games of this series.

Ryan Zimmerman has been a big part of a few of those wins, including a 3-for-4 performance with three doubles Tuesday night. Zimmerman is hitting .474 with six extra-base hits in five games against the Phillies this season.

Zimmerman, though, is 5-for-21 with 10 strikeouts versus Arrieta.