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NYM@WSH: Zimmermann allows three runs over six strong

The Nationals host the Phillies on Tuesday night in the opener of the second series between the two National League East teams in 2014.

Washington dropped two of three games in Philadelphia in the clubs' first meeting in early May. But they are ahead of the Phillies in the division, sitting in third place -- 3 1/2 back of first-place Atlanta -- at 27-28, while the Phillies are in last at 24-31.

The Nationals are coming off a series win against the Rangers, a strong response after they dropped seven of their previous nine games. They should also get third baseman Ryan Zimmerman back from the disabled list for the series opener, although he might play some left field when he rejoins the ballclub. Zimmerman, out since April 12 with a fractured right thumb, has been aiming to be ready Tuesday.

The Phillies, meanwhile, finished up a five-game set against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park on Monday with an 11-2 loss.

Jordan Zimmermann, who had a fairly rough May, will start the opener for Washington. Zimmermann has given up 15 runs in 22 2/3 innings for a 5.96 ERA over his last four starts, after throwing four scoreless innings in a rain-shortened outing to start the month.

However, the right-hander doesn't see any problems in terms of his pitches and their location.

"My stuff's there," Zimmermann said. "I'm making good pitches where I want, they're just squaring the ball up right now."

Manager Matt Williams has a similar opinion in regards to Zimmermann's struggles. Williams said he has been content with the right-hander's velocity -- 94-95 mph -- and his bullpens have been solid.

"He's aggressive, he's throwing strikes, he's not walking a bunch of people," Williams said. "If anything, it's just a little elevated. And it varies from inning to inning sometimes. But I'm not worried about him."

Philadelphia will send rookie David Buchanan, who has had two career starts, to the hill. Buchanan had a solid first start, beating the Dodgers with five innings of two-run ball, but he dropped a decision to the Mets in his next outing, giving up four runs (three earned) in 6 2/3 innings.

Nationals: Bats heat up, cool down against Rangers
The Nationals crushed the Rangers for 19 runs on 27 hits during the first two games of their series at Nationals Park on Friday and Saturday. They had compiled 19 total runs in the seven games prior to the series against Texas -- six of them losses.

Washington scored in seven consecutive innings against the Rangers during a stretch spanning from the fourth inning of Friday night's 9-2 victory until the second inning of Saturday's 10-2 victory.

"You do this for an extended period of time and you kind of build off that," said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning of Saturday's victory. "And confidence starts to grow."

But the Nationals were shut out in Sunday's series finale, 2-0. They were held to five hits in the game, and Texas starter Yu Darvish struck out a season-high 12 batters.

Phillies: Aumont, Jimenez added to bullpen
The Phillies' bullpen has been inconsistent in 2014. To bolster their 'pen -- stretched thin after consecutive 14-inning games on Friday and Saturday -- the club recalled right-hander Phillippe Aumont and selected the contract of left-hander Cesar Jimenez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Jimenez posted a 1.67 ERA in 19 games, including two starts, for Lehigh Valley. In 27 innings, he allowed 15 hits while striking out 22 and walking seven. Aumont had a 4.12 ERA, but he hadn't allowed a run in six of his past seven relief appearances.

Worth noting
• On Friday night, Ian Desmond passed Adam Dunn for second place on the Nationals' all-time home run list. He has 77 in his sixth year with the club. Dunn hit 76 in two seasons.

• The Phillies' two 14-inning games against the Mets were the first back-to-back games of that length in the franchise's 132-year history, and they came in the midst of a stretch of 41 games in 41 days for Philadelphia.

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