Splitting four-game series at this point in the season does nothing to help the Phillies, so a win Thursday to take three of four from Washington and move back within one game of .500 is paramount.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, Thursday night's pitching matchup represent their least favorable one of the series. They'll trot out their first right-handed starter in four games to the mound in Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.90 ERA), who will be opposed by NL-wins leader Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.57).
Kendrick had one of his worst outings of the season last time out, getting shellacked by Atlanta for six runs and 12 hits in five innings. In his last five starts, the 28-year-old has struggled, allowing 20 runs and 41 hits in 31 innings. He has still shown good control and hasn't walked more than two batters in one game over that span.
In his career against the Nationals, Kendrick is 4-6 with a 4.63 ERA in 21 games (19 starts). Current Nationals are hitting .285 off him, with Ian Desmond (.357) leading the way at 10 for 28 with two homers.
Zimmermann will go for a career high of 13 wins, which will also make him the sole leader in the category in the NL. He's also had a rough stretch in his last five games (31.1 IP, 15 ER, 31 H, 5 BB), but the Nationals have won all five games by averaging six runs per game over the span. In fact, Washington has lost a Zimmermann start since May 29 and are 15-3 in games he starts this season.
The 27-year-old right-hander is 2-4 lifetime with a 4.62 ERA against the Phils; he's worse at Citizens Bank Park (5.79 ERA). Current Phillies are batting .299 against him.
A win would put the Phillies within 1 1/2 games of the Nationals and put them at 5-2 on their current 10-game homestand. And with Atlanta playing Cincinnati tonight, they'd gain a game in either the division (7.5 back) or wild card (6.5 back).
Here is tonight's lineup, which remains the same for the fourth straight game:
1) Ben Revere, CF
2) Jimmy Rollins, SS
3) Chase Utley, 2B
4) Domonic Brown, LF
5) Michael Young, 3B
6) Delmon Young, RF
7) Darin Ruf, 1B
8) Carlos Ruiz, C
9) Kyle Kendrick, P