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The Washington Nationals look to continue their home-run hitting prowess on Friday when they open a three-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals went deep four times on Thursday to win their season-high sixth consecutive contest and belted 13 homers to complete a four-game sweep of the reeling New York Mets. Ryan Zimmerman is riding a torrid stretch after going deep for the eighth time in 10 contests in Thursday's 7-2 triumph.
The victory was the eighth in nine outings for Washington, which resides 5 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the race for the National League's second wild card. While the Nationals would love to further close the gap, the third-place Phillies are playing spirited ball down the stretch. Philadelphia posted its fifth win in six outings on Thursday with a 10-5 victory over San Diego.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN (Philadelphia), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Kyle Kendrick (10-12, 4.51 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96)
Kendrick was in line to snap a four-game losing skid on Saturday before closer Jonathan Papelbon yielded a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning against Atlanta. The 29-year-old starter fell to 5-7 in his career versus Washington on Aug. 11 after getting blitzed for six runs (four earned) on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. With his next victory, Kendrick will notch 11 wins for the fourth time in seven seasons.
Strasburg improved to 2-0 in his last seven trips to the mound despite permitting four runs on as many hits in six innings of Sunday's 6-4 triumph over Miami. The 25-year-old entered that contest having allowed eight earned runs in his previous six outings (33 2/3 innings). Strasburg was dominant in his last trip to the mound versus Philadelphia, striking out 10 and scattering just two hits over six innings in a no-decision on Sept. 2.
1. Washington CF Denard Span is riding a career-high 23-game hitting streak, but is just 3-for-13 lifetime versus Kendrick.
2. Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley has 10 hits, four RBIs and three runs scored during his last seven games. Utley is 0-for-5 against Strasburg this season.
3. Former Phillie RF Jayson Werth collected 11 hits in his previous five games before going 0-for-3 on Thursday and is 5-for-9 against Kendrick this season.
PREDICTION: Nationals 6, Phillies 1