Starting pitcher Cole Hamels will face the Washington Nationals for the first time since intentionally hitting rookie outfielder Bryce Harper and try to help his Philadelphia Phillies avoid a three-game sweep on Wednesday in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. Hamels (6-1, 2.48 ERA) has won his last six decisions and will snap Philadelphia’s six-game home losing streak to Washington if he is able to notch his seventh consecutive victory in the series finale.
The 6-foot-3 southpaw from San Diego made waves when he struck Harper in the back in his last meeting with the Nationals on May 6 and was suspended five games for “sending a message” to the 19-year-old phenom from Las Vegas. Hamels earned the victory, allowing just one run and five hits in eight innings of a 9-3 win while walking one and striking out eight. He improved to 11-4 lifetime vs. Washington with a 2.62 ERA in 21 career starts.
Besides that game, the Nationals have won 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Phillies and three in a row overall following a three-game losing streak. Harper has been hot lately, hitting .325 in Washington’s last 10 games with two home runs and 11 runs scored. He went 2 for 5 in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory, hitting a triple and driving in two runs. The Nats moved a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Braves for the lead in the National League East standings with a three-game series between the teams scheduled for this weekend.
Washington will send Edwin Jackson (1-1, 3.31) to the mound searching for his first win since April 14, which is also his only one of the season so far. Jackson has walked away with a no-decision in each of his last five starts even though he has pitched fairly well during that stretch. He has allowed more than three runs just once in his past five outings, although the Nationals are 1-4 in those games.
Jackson allowed one run and five hits to the Baltimore Orioles last time out on Friday, walking one and striking out eight in eight innings of a game that his team eventually lost 2-1 in 11 innings. He gave up five runs and eight hits to Philadelphia in five innings two years ago when he was pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is his lone career start against the Phillies.