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Notes: Bullpen steps up

Notes: Bullpen steps up

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals' bullpen has pitched in a National League-leading 367 innings and it did yeoman's service in Wednesday night's marathon against the Phillies. The relievers pitched 8 1/3 innings and gave up two runs in the 14th inning.

Obviously, the Nationals were short on relievers for Thursday's game because Saul Rivera pitched three innings, Luis Ayala pitched two days in a row and is coming back from elbow reconstruction and Chris Booker was sent down to Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday night.

To make sure they are OK in the bullpen, starter Mike Bacsik was available for long relief.

The bullpen has done a great job. It is 17-12 with 26 saves and a 3.72 ERA.

"I think our bullpen has been one of the best in the league," manager Manny Acta said. "I think [Jon] Rauch established himself last year as one of the top setup men in the league. We have the versatility of Rivera. He can pitch in any situation in the game. Our situational [pitching] has been up and down, but the key has been Rivera, [Jesus] Colome and Rauch."

Injury report: Acta said that it's very doubtful that Jason Bergmann will make his start on Sunday against the Mets because of left hamstring tightness. Bergmann most likely will be placed on the disabled list.

If Bergmann can't go, the Nationals will have another pitcher throw in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader and Billy Traber will pitch Sunday instead. Right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who is with Columbus, is the leading candidate to pitch in the doubleheader if Bergmann can't go.

Stat of the day: Washington is 10-11 during the month of July.

Did you know: The Nationals are 24-29 at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium this year.

Coming up: The Nationals travel to New York to play against the Mets starting on Friday night. Thus far, the Nationals have won two of five games against New York. In the first game of the four-game set, Washington left-hander Mike Bacsik will face New York right-hander Jorge Sosa.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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