Diamondbacks-Nationals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 24, 2013
Though his win-loss record doesn't show it, Gio Gonzalez has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball for the past six weeks. The Washington Nationals hope to provide enough run support for Gonzalez to earn his first victory in that span as they host the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. Gonzalez (3-3, 3.34 ERA) has a 2.18 ERA over his last eight starts, though he's 0-1 in that stretch. He allowed two runs and struck out a season-high 11 through seven innings of Wednesday's 6-2, 11-inning win over Philadelphia. The left-hander, who has pitched at least six innings while giving up two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last eight starts, received only one run of support Wednesday and has a 2.18 run-support average since beating Pittsburgh on May 5. The Nationals put up plenty of runs for Gonzalez in his only start versus the Diamondbacks as he allowed one run in seven innings of a 7-2 win July 3, 2011. This time Gonzalez will oppose former teammate Trevor Cahill, who pitched in Oakland's starting rotation with Gonzalez from 2009-11. Cahill (3-8, 3.92) also has been a victim of a lack of run support, though he hasn't helped himself much lately, either. He has received only seven runs of support over his last six starts, but he's 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in that stretch. The right-hander was struck in the right hip by a line drive in the first inning of Wednesday's start versus Miami and left following the inning. "They just didn't want to risk anything," Cahill said. "It was sore, but I felt like I could have made an adjustment and pitched through it." Cahill went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA last season in his only two career starts versus the Nationals, who will send Jordan Zimmermann to the mound Wednesday and Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. "Gonzalez, Strasburg and Zimmermann, they're bringing their 'A' game," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told the team's official website. "We'll approach them just like we do every pitcher. We'll study them all the way out there and try to execute against them." Arizona (41-34) had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 4-2 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, though Gerardo Parra went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting steak to six. The Diamondbacks are expecting second baseman Aaron Hill to return to the lineup after being on the disabled list since April 14 with a broken hand. Washington (37-38), though, may not have Jayson Werth after he left Sunday's 7-6 loss to Colorado early because of a left groin pull. He missed Saturday's contest with flu-like symptoms. ''I think I'll be all right. Groins are pretty straight forward," Werth said. "I've had a couple of them in the past, but never missed any time so I'm hoping that will be the case.'' Sunday's loss was the Nationals' second straight following a three-game winning streak. ''Lately we've played two or three good games in a row and then gone right back to where we were,'' said Ryan Zimmerman, who drove in a run for the third straight game. ''Long way to go still. Just got to keep taking the positives and go with that.'' Zimmerman has six homers and 12 RBIs in his last 13 games versus Arizona.
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