(Sports Network) - Having already surpassed their win total from last season,
the NL East-leading Washington Nationals look to add another meaningful
victory on Monday afternoon when they open a four-game series against the
The Nationals have gone an outstanding 32-18 since the All-Star break and lead
their division by 6 1/2 games over the Atlanta Braves. Washington's victory
over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday gave it 81 wins on the season -- it won
just 80 games last season -- to match the 2005 club's franchise-best total
since relocating from Montreal.
A 4-3 victory over the Cards gave the Nationals a series win as they took 3-
of-4 thanks to a two-run seventh inning that was highlighted by Danny
Espinosa's RBI single.
Kurt Suzuki added a solo homer and RBI base hit and Ryan Mattheus picked up
the win in relief of Stephen Strasburg, who hurled six scoreless innings and
is slated to throw only two more starts this season due to an innings limit
Washington has put him on.
"It's huge," Strasburg said of the series win. "We want to protect our park.
When teams come in here, we want to make sure we play our caliber of
Outfielder Jayson Werth (hamstring) and first baseman Adam LaRoche (back) were
held out of the starting lineup on Sunday, though LaRoche pinch-hit in the
win. Both are expected to start this opener, which will see Ross Detwiler on
The Washington left-hander picked up his second victory in three starts on
Wednesday at the Miami Marlins, yielding three runs on four hits and a walk
over 5 2/3 innings. He improved to 8-6 with a 3.32 earned run average in 27
games (21 starts) this season.
Detwiler, 26, has split two career starts versus the Cubs with a 4.35 ERA.
Chicago tries to avoid a sixth loss in eight games on Monday and turns to
starter Jeff Samardzija, who is coming off a solid outing that featured a
Facing the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, the right-hander gave up all three
runs in a 3-1 decision, but one was unearned. He also struck out 10 batters
without a walk, falling to 8-12 with a 4.03 ERA in 26 games this season.
Following seven relief outings against Washington, the 27-year-old Samardzija
made his first start versus the club on April 8 in his season debut, yielding
three runs -- one earned -- and fanning eight without a walk in a victory.
The Cubs lost the final two contests of their three-game series against the
San Francisco Giants, falling on Sunday 7-5 after reliever Carlos Marmol
yielded two runs in the ninth inning.
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer for Chicago, which lost two of three at
home to Washington back on April 5-8.
The Sports Network