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Nationals Look For Sweep At Home Against Phillies

(Sports Network) - The Phillies won a season-high eight straight games entering their weekend set with the Nationals and it didn't seem likely they were going to slow down against the last-place team.

However, Washington will be going for its first sweep of Philadelphia since relocating from Montreal this afternoon in the finale of a three-game set at Nationals Park.

The Phillies used their win streak to get within 2 1/2 games of the first- place Braves in the National League East, but have fallen a game further back thanks to consecutive losses to the Nationals. After the newly-acquired Roy Oswalt was rocked in Friday's opener, closer Brad Lidge failed to hold a one- run lead in the ninth inning on Saturday, serving up a three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman for a 7-5 Washington victory.

"I got hold of a good fastball there and made the most of it," said Zimmerman. "[Lidge] loves to use his slider and it's a good one. That's what you'd normally look for, but I got lucky cause I was looking for a fastball."

Raul Ibanez hit a game-tying two-run homer in the seventh inning and Carlos Ruiz had given the Phillies the lead in the top of the ninth with an RBI single. Ruiz also homered in the game and had three hits.

"We battled like hell there today," said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel. "We came from behind and did some things right, but we still ended up losing the game."

The Nationals have won three straight games for the first time since June 8-10 and will try to win four in a row for the first time this season. They haven't swept the Phillies since taking all four games of a meeting in Montreal from Aug. 25-28, 2003 while still known as the Expos.

Though they have split eight meetings this year, the Phillies have still won 22 of the last 29 meetings overall.

If not for a shoulder injury, the Nationals would have phenom Stephen Strasburg on the hill today in the hopes of a sweep, but he is currently on the disabled list. Instead, Washington will give John Lannan his first start since June 20, though they aren't doing the 25-year-old any favors by having him face the Phillies.

Lannan is 0-7 with a 6.32 earned run average in his career versus Philadelphia, which blasted him for five runs on seven hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings on April 5 in an Opening Day start.

That was the beginning of what has been a subpar season for Lannan as he went 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in 14 starts before getting demoted in late June. He went 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA with Double-A Harrisburg and hasn't won in the majors since May 28.

The 25-year-old is also 0-2 with a 6.16 ERA in six starts at Nationals Park this year.

The Phillies turn today to left-hander Cole Hamels, who had a string of five starts with at least seven innings pitched snapped last time out versus Arizona.

Hamels was 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA over that streak before allowing three runs on six hits and four walks over five innings on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks. He also struck out eight and did not get a decision in his club's 9-5 win.

The 26-year-old is 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA this year and the Phillies have won each of his last four starts. Hamels opened the season with back-to-back wins against the Nationals, allowing six earned runs over 10 2/3 innings, and is 9-3 versus them lifetime with a 2.58 ERA.