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News » Phillies-Nationals Preview 2009-05-17

Phillies-Nationals Preview 2009-05-17

Phillies-Nationals Preview 2009-05-17
The Philadelphia Phillies had lost three straight series coming into this weekend. Thanks to Raul Ibanez's dominance against the Washington Nationals, however, they're in position to close it riding a four-game winning streak.

The Phillies hope Ibanez can continue his hot hitting as they try to complete a four-game road sweep of the struggling Nationals on Sunday.

Philadelphia (19-16) entered this series having dropped six of its previous eight games while losing three consecutive series. But the defending World Series champions have bounced back by taking the first three games against Washington.

The Phillies had a season-high 16 hits in a 10-6, 12-inning victory Friday night, then swept a doubleheader Saturday with an 8-5 win during the day and a 7-5 win in a rain-shortened nightcap.

Ibanez was key to the Phillies' surging offense in all three games. He had four hits, two RBIs and three runs scored in the opener before totaling five hits - three of them homers - seven RBIs and four runs scored in the twinbill.

Ibanez, who signed a three-year deal in December after five seasons with Seattle, is 19 for 33 (.576) with six homers, 16 RBIs and 13 runs scored in eight games against the Nationals this season. Philadelphia is 6-2 in those contests.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel didn't want to answer questions about Ibanez on Saturday because he didn't want to jinx him.

"Don't need to talk about him," Manuel said of the lefty-hitting left fielder, batting .565 (13 for 23) with four homers, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored over his last six games. "Leave him alone."

The Nationals (11-24) have dropped six of seven despite scoring at least five runs in each game in that stretch. They're batting .306 during the slump but have posted a 7.84 ERA - inflating their major league-worst ERA to 5.70.

"We weren't anticipating things to be this way," manager Manny Acta said.

A recent contributor to Washington's pitching woes, Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 5.90 ERA) will take the mound Sunday.

The right-handed rookie won his first two major league starts with a 2.38 ERA in April, but he's been tagged for 16 runs over 17 2-3 innings for an 8.15 ERA over his last three outings, including nine in the first innings of those games.

"I just have to go out there and try to calm myself down," Zimmermann told the Nationals' official Web site after giving up five runs - two in the first inning - in six innings of Washington's 9-7 loss at San Francisco on Tuesday. "Maybe I'm too amped up in the beginning of the games."

Zimmermann has never faced Philadelphia, which will hand the ball to Chan Ho Park (1-1, 6.00).

Park has settled down after a rough transition to the starting rotation. The veteran right-hander made his first appearance of the year in relief before posting a 9.00 ERA in his first four starts. In his last two, however, he's held opponents to two runs and eight hits over 12 innings.

"I'm more aggressive, with my fastball, especially," Park told the Phillies' official Web site after a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday gave him his first win since July 1. "...I'm getting comfortable. To have back-to-back good outings, I feel much better."

Park is 4-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 12 career starts against the Washington franchise, the last of which came in 2003. He made two relief appearances against the Nationals in 2008.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 17, 2009

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