video thumbnail

TEX@WSH: Fister works six strong innings for the win

After Wednesday night's 8-4 victory over the Phillies, the Nationals are now 25-2 this season when they score four or more runs in a game.

Right-hander Doug Fister -- who will start Thursday's series finale against Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Kendrick -- has started four of those 25 victories.

The Nationals provided Fister with at least five runs in each of those four outings, three of which he earned wins. They scored nine or more runs in two of those games and combined to score 29 runs in all four games.

"Run support in general is always an important stat," Fister said. "It's something that's not only a number thing, it's a morale booster, it's a momentum builder, it's everything that a team wants to do, and it's kind of the equivalent to a pitcher going out there and putting up zeros." 

Fister said his mentality doesn't change regardless of the score, though. It's always a 0-0 game in his head, which helps the right-hander not lose focus.

But that's not to say he doesn't like run support if he can get it.

"Guys have more confidence," Fister said. "Guys have more rhythm when we're scoring and hitting the ball well."

Fister is 3-1 with a 3.34 ERA in 2014, while Kendrick has compiled a 1-5 record and a 4.21 ERA.

Nationals: Finding the home run stroke
The Nationals have blasted 10 home runs in their past seven games, bringing their season total to 55 -- a 22 percent increase in nine days.

But the Nationals struggled mightily swinging the bats in weeks before their recent offensive eruption, during which they've scored five or more runs in five of their past six games. The team compiled the same number of home runs, 10, in the 13 games prior to this recent seven-game stretch.

Because of the fluctuation involved with long balls, as seen by the Nationals' past 20 games, manager Matt Williams said he's learned not to rely on them. 

"Home runs, as far as I'm concerned, are accidents," Williams said. "You're not up there to try and hit a homer. You're up there to hit the ball as hard as you can [and] give the defense as little time to react as possible. It's nice to have three-run homers, though. Who wouldn't want them? But you can't count on them. We've got to grind at-bats. We've got to do things right. We've go to move guys over, get guys in from third. That's what makes the difference in winning games or not."

Phillies: Can Martin be the guy?
The Phillies need a right-handed relief pitcher other than Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams to step up.

Maybe Ethan Martin can do it.

Martin, who started the season on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, rejoined the Phillies on Tuesday and pitched two scoreless innings in his 2014 debut. His velocity isn't where it was last year when he pitched out of the bullpen, but he believes it will return in time. He averaged 92.7 mph Tuesday, according to FanGraphs. His fastball averaged 94.8 mph in seven relief appearances last season.

"It's been coming back," Martin said. "I would say it's gotten better every outing I've had. I don't think I've gone backwards. It's just slow. It's one thing they said, 'It's going to take a little bit of time to build it up.'"

Worth noting
• Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who hasn't pitched since May 18, remains day to day with a strained left elbow. He has not been cleared to begin his throwing program. "The way that it's progressing, that's the good thing," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "The amount of time he has a chance to end up missing, it's going to be what it is. We have to fill that gap in the meantime."

• Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to make his first rehab start on Friday for Class A Advanced Potomac. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 18.

• After being shut out by the Rangers, 2-0, on Sunday, the Nationals blanked the Phillies, 7-0, in the series opener on Tuesday. It marked the sixth time in team history and the third time this season the Nationals followed a shutout loss with a shutout victory. Comments