After a four-game series with the Giants, the Nationals remain out west for a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. The Nats hope for better results this time around: In April, the team was swept at home in a four-game series with Arizona by a combined score of 21-6.
This time, the team is on a hot streak, and is the second-best team in the National League East over the past three months. Washington is trying to overtake Florida for fourth place in the division, which would be an accomplishment for a team picked by many to finish last among all 30 teams before the season.
Washington left-hander Matt Chico takes the mound on Friday night. He's the only pitcher who hasn't missed a start this season for the Nats, and has provided solid outings for the team. He'll be pitching against former Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez, who has pitched well in his recent outings.
WSH: LHP Matt Chico (5-6, 4.76 ERA)
In his last start, Chico had a 3-1 lead after three innings, but the Cardinals tied the score by the fifth. In the fourth inning, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright hit a mammoth home run over the left-center-field wall. In the sixth, Albert Pujols scored on a double by Jim Edmonds. Chico lasted five innings and gave up three runs on six hits.
ARI: RHP Livan Hernandez (7-7, 4.83 ERA)
Hernandez looks like he's turned the corner in his last three starts after struggling for the better part of two months. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over six innings in his last outing against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. One of the big differences in that game was his ability to throw strikes early in the count. He tired a bit in the sixth inning and walked in a run in the fourth, but other than that, his ball-to-strike ratio was better than before.
Player to watch
First baseman Dmitri Young sat out Thursday's game with a hamstring injury that he sustained on his first at-bat Wednesday night. The team is looking for him to make a speedy recovery, as he provides the Nats with a valuable presence at the plate. He was Washington's only All-Star.
Buy tickets now
to catch the game in person.
On the Internet
Official game notes
WTWP 1500, 107.7 FM
Saturday: Nationals (John Lannan, 1-0, 3.71) at Diamondbacks (Brandon Webb, 11-8, 2.92), 8:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: Nationals (Mike Bacsik, 5-6, 4.47) at Diamondbacks (Micah Owings, 5-6, 4.96), 4:40 p.m. ET
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.