Runs have come at a premium lately for the Washington Nationals, putting a big burden on their starting pitchers. Luckily, Jordan Zimmermann has been up to the task this season, though Friday night he'll have to bounce back from his first loss in nearly a month.
Zimmermann tries to become the NL's first eight-game winner as Washington opens a three-game home series with the Philadelphia Phillies.The Nationals (24-23) have scored 31 runs over the last 12 games, but they managed a 2-1 win at San Francisco on Wednesday to halt a four-game losing streak.Zimmermann (7-2, 1.62 ERA) hasn't needed much support, though his first bid for his eighth win was foiled.He allowed two runs -- one earned -- and seven hits over eight innings in a 2-1 defeat at San Diego on Saturday. The first run was on a solo homer by Yonder Alonso and Alexi Amarista came around for the go-ahead run in the eighth, scoring only after reaching second on Zimmermann's errant pick-off attempt."It was a good pitch, it was up," Zimmermann, who is 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts against Philadelphia, said of the pitch to Alonso. "You can't really complain about that. The throwing error I made down the line cost us. If I don't make that, we're still out there playing."Thursday's off day was likely helpful for Bryce Harper, who hurt his left knee while making a diving catch in the eighth inning Wednesday. He is also still recovering from his collision with the wall in Los Angeles last week, though he hit his 12th homer and scored both of Washington's runs against the Giants.Kyle Kendrick (4-2, 2.82) gets the ball trying to bring the Phillies, who have won seven of 10, back to .500 for the first time since they were 6-6 on April 14.He is coming off his first loss in eight starts after yielding four runs, eight hits and a season-high four walks over six innings in a 10-0 defeat to Cincinnati on Saturday.Kendrick had been 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven outings since losing his first start April 5."They have a good lineup and I wasn't good," Kendrick said. "Those two things make it tough."Philadelphia (23-24) will be without second baseman Chase Utley after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with an oblique strain. Utley has a .475 slugging percentage and his 25 RBIs tie him with Ryan Howard for the team lead."We do believe and hope that Chase will be ready to play in Philadelphia within 15 days," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We are being cautious with this injury as it is a tricky one and want to make sure it isn't an issue for him throughout the season."Harper, who is 8 for 19 with two homers and six RBIs over his last six against the Phillies, is 6 for 12 versus Kendrick. Ian Desmond is 10 for 23 with two homers against the right-hander, who is 4-5 with a 4.75 ERA in 17 starts versus the Nationals.Jimmy Rollins has four homers in his last eight games against Washington.