Dodgers' Hill looks for better results in D.C. against Nationals (Sep 16, 2017)

BY AP • September 16, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The last time Rich Hill, 37, pitched at Nationals Park, the stakes were a little higher. And the results were not so good for the one-time Washington minor leaguer.

Hill, the left-hander for the Los Angeles Dodgers, started Game 2 of the National League Division Series here last October against the Washington Nationals.

That start was pushed back a day after Game 2 was rained out. In the series, Hill made two starts and was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in just seven innings as he dealt with a blister problem on his throwing hand much of 2016. Hill was tagged with the loss in Game 2 last October.

Hill is slated to be on the mound Saturday when the Dodgers begin a three-game series with the Nationals in what will be described as a playoff preview by many. Washington will go with right-hander A.J. Cole (2-4, 4.30), who has been used as a spot starter for each of the past three years.

Hill last pitched on Sunday and took the loss as the Dodgers fell 8-1 for their 10th consecutive defeat.

"As they say, success isn't in a straight line, right? It's an extremely difficult time right now," Hill told reporters after that game.

The last time Hill faced Washington in a regular-season game was June 8, 2012 at Fenway Park in his native Boston when he was with the Red Sox. He pitched one inning out of the bullpen and allowed two hits and no runs.

The last time Hill started a regular-season game in Washington was May 22, 2009 when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings but did not factor in the decision as the Orioles won 4-2.

In three career starts against the Nationals, Hill is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings.

Cole, who will make his seventh start of the year for Washington, will face the Dodgers for the first time in his career. He spent most of this year at Triple-A Syracuse and has pitched in eight games with Washington, with six starts. Cole has given up six homers in 37 2/3 innings at the major league level this year.

The Nationals clinched the National League East division title on Sept. 10 and the series with the Dodgers will conclude a stretch of 10 games in 11 days at home.

"So it's not bad (to be facing them now). Actually, I want to see who might be on their roster. You're scouting and playing them at the same time, yeah. I'm glad we're playing them," Washington manager Dusty Baker said Friday.

"When you clinch as early as we did, it's good to have a series like this," Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told reporters. "It'll be exciting. Obviously they're a good club. We played them last year (in the NLDS). It should be exciting. Maybe a little playoff preview. Maybe not. We'll see."

The Dodgers are closing in on another National League West title after a 7-0 win in Washington on Friday as Alex Wood and two relievers combined for the shutout.

"I can be certain Rich will have that same kind of fire tomorrow morning," Roberts said late Friday night of Hill.

Hill pitched at Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington minor league system in 2015.

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