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|4:05 PM PT5:05 PM MT6:05 PM CT7:05 PM ET19:05 ET23:05 GMT7:05 4:05 PM MST6:05 PM EST6:35 PM VEN3:05 UAE (+1)6:05 PM CT, May 6, 2017
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Attendance: 21,298
Struggling Phillies look to get going against Nationals
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin knows quite simply what has been ailing his team lately.
The Phillies left for a road trip last Thursday riding a six-game winning streak.
Now they are on a four-game losing streak and have lost six of their last seven games due to struggling offense heading into Saturday's game with the Washington Nationals.
"We're not pushing enough runs across," Mackanin said after the Phillies went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Friday's 4-2 loss.
Washington, of course, is having no such problems. The Nationals lead baseball in runs scored with 183 after Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back home runs and had three hits apiece.
The Nationals played without star slugger Bryce Harper due to a left groin injury. Harper left Thursday's 3-1 win over Arizona and is day-to-day at this point.
"He's a little sore," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "Like I said yesterday, he's day-to-day. I'll check with him daily, but I didn't check with him today. I checked with our trainers today. I'm hoping he'll come back sometime this weekend."
Struggling for clutch hits and runs, the Phillies will look to prey on a pitcher who has had little success at the big league level so far in his career.
Washington will send RHP A.J. Cole to the mound for his first start of 2017. He'll face RHP Vince Velasquez of the Phillies (2-2, 5.47 ERA).
Cole was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on May 2, replacing Joe Ross.
The 25-year-old made eight starts in 2016 and compiled a 5.17 ERA in 38 1/3 innings.
Cole has struggled in four starts so far for Triple-A Syracuse this year. In 19 innings, Cole has a 6.63 ERA, 1.789 WHIP and has struck out 14 against 10 walks.
In his 47 2/3 career innings, 9 1/3 are against the Phillies over two appearances. In a start last year in September, Cole lasted five innings in a losing effort. He was tagged for five hits and four runs, two of those hits going for home runs. He did strike out eight batters.
Velasquez is coming off an encouraging start his last time out. In a 10-2 Phillies win over Chicago, he allowed just two hits in five innings and struck out four.
His pitch count, however, continues to be concerning. Velasquez walked three and needed 98 pitches to get through the five innings.
He has won his last two starts, and the Phillies, desperate for a win, are hoping that number becomes three Saturday.
In Velasquez's lone start vs. Washington this season, he struck out 10 in four innings while allowing four runs on five hits.
Lifetime against the Nationals, Velasquez has thrown just 10 innings and has a 6.30 ERA.
The Phillies got good news on starting pitcher Aaron Nola Friday, with an MRI revealing "nothing cornering at all, which is what we'd hoped," general manager Matt Klentak said before Friday's game.
Nola, who missed his second straight start Friday, is expected to throw this weekend and may need a rehab assignment next week before returning.
The Nationals, meanwhile, were on the opposite end of injury news over the last few days.
Besides Harper's absence, the Nationals placed Shawn Kelley on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back injury. Matt Albers closed out Washington's win Friday and became the fifth player to get a save for the Nationals.
Updated May 6, 2017