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News » Nationals-Phillies Preview 2009-04-29

Nationals-Phillies Preview 2009-04-29

Nationals-Phillies Preview 2009-04-29
Giving up home runs has proved Brett Myers' biggest weakness as a starter. The Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher hasn't had that problem against the Washington Nationals.

With Myers slated to start Wednesday night, Philadelphia searches for its sixth straight win and sixth in a row at home over the woeful Nationals, who are off to their worst start in the franchise's 41 seasons.

Of the 26 hits the Phillies starter has given up this season, a major league-worst eight have been homers. That has contributed to Philadelphia's league-leading total of 40 allowed with at least one in a record 16 consecutive games to begin 2009.

"You could name a million factors," pitching coach Rich Dubee told the team's official Web site. "Trying to do too much. Trying to make too good of a pitch."

After saving 21 games in 2007 while allowing nine round-trippers, Myers was among the league leaders in home runs allowed last season with 29. But against Washington, he hasn't given up a long ball since Aug. 29, 2006, a span covering 14 appearances and five starts.

Myers has conceded just one run in his last two starts versus the Nationals and recorded his third career shutout in an Aug. 20 victory.

Luckily for Myers and the Phillies staff, their offense been clicking of late. Chase Utley homered twice and Raul Ibanez went deep for the second straight game in Tuesday's 7-1 victory.

Both players extended five-game hitting streaks for Philadelphia, which has scored 46 runs during its win streak.

However, starter Cole Hamels left in the fifth inning with a sprained ankle Thursday, and it is uncertain if he will miss his next start. Last season's World Series MVP missed time in March with left shoulder inflammation and was struck by a liner in the same shoulder Thursday against Milwaukee.

Closer Brad Lidge is also expected to miss a few more days after suffering inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

The Nationals' record (4-15) hasn't been healthy all season, but Ryan Zimmerman has a chance to keep major league-leading hitting streak alive and well.

With a first-inning double Tuesday, Zimmerman extended his streak to 17 games. His 11 career hits against Myers are his most against any opposing pitcher, going 11-for-30 (.367) with 12 RBIs versus the Phillies starter.

Adam Dunn, who has homered in consecutive games, has three hits in 15 career at-bats against Myers, but two are home runs.

Nationals manager Manny Acta continues to try and find an answer for his flagging bullpen that has already blown six saves. Acta said Tuesday that Joel Hanrahan had lost his job as the team's closer and he'll choose who finishes games based on matchups, relying mainly on veterans Kips Wells and Julian Tavarez.

"All we are going to do is put the veteran guys at the end of the game and take the pressure off these young kids - put them in earlier," Acta told the team's official Web site.

Wednesday's scheduled starter Scott Olsen (0-3, 7.29) has allowed two earned runs in each of his last two starts, but has allowed at least three in eight of his last nine against the Phillies. The former Florida Marlins pitcher is making his first start in Philadelphia since Sept. 24, 2006, when he gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 29, 2009

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