On June 25 against the Brewers, Stephen Strasburg had his worst outing of the season while surrendering seven earned runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings.
After the game, the hard-throwing right-hander attributed his poor performance to disrupted mechanics, which allowed hitters to see the ball better. But in his past two starts, Strasburg clearly demonstrated a correction in whatever mishap he struggled with two weeks ago.
On July 1, Strasburg -- who will take on Cole Hamels and the Phillies on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park -- spun 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Rockies. He followed that up by allowing four hits and two earned runs against the Orioles over seven strong innings on Monday.
"I was trying to go out there and build off [my] last start," Strasburg said Monday. "I was focusing on executing the pitches. I tried not to analyze every pitch as much. I was trying to get into the flow of the game."
Those two quality starts lowered Strasburg's ERA to 3.47 from 3.70 and improved his record to 7-6. Meanwhile, Hamels has been the victim of lack of the run support from Philadelphia this season, sporting a 2.87 ERA and a 3-5 record.
The Phillies, though, have averaged more than six runs a game during their current five-game win streak. A victory Saturday would give the Phillies their longest unbeaten streak of the season.
Four times in 2014, Hamels has surrendered one or fewer earned runs over seven or more innings and earned a no-decision. In his latest start, though, Hamels won his third game of the season after giving up one earned run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Brewers.
Phillies: Sizemore makes his debut
After playing in 11 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Grady Sizemore earned his opportunity to help contribute at the big league level Thursday when the Phillies announced they had selected his contract.
The former All-Star outfielder made his debut for Philadelphia the next night and went 1-for-4 with a run scored as the starting center fielder in a 6-2 victory over the Nationals.
Sizemore got off to a hot start as the Opening-Day center fielder for the Red Sox, hitting .343 with two homers and four RBIs through his first 10 games. But he tapered off at the plate, and his average eventually sank as low as .208 before Boston released him last month.
"He was swinging a good bat, he was using the whole field, a line-drive stroke," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Good hit and run guy, he bunts, plays all three outfield positions. So he brings some options for a lineup, brings options for the outfield."
Nationals: Zimmermann to miss All-Star Game
Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann left Friday night's loss to the Phillies in the top of the fourth inning because of a biceps cramp. Before exiting the contest, Zimmermann allowed four runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings.
Zimmermann said he first felt the discomfort in his arm in the third inning. He was scheduled to have an MRI exam for further evaluation on Saturday.
"It was getting a little tight in the last inning, and every pitch, it was getting tighter and tighter," Zimmermann said. "It was cramping up. I didn't want to push it too far and have something worse happen. I figured it would be best if I came out."
The timing, however, means Zimmermann will not be able to participate in the All-Star Game because of injury for the second straight year. The right-hander was expecting to pitch in front of his family, making the trip to Minneapolis from Auburndale, Wis.
• The Phillies optioned right-hander David Buchanan to Triple-A Lehigh on Thursday to make room for Sizemore on the 25-man roster. Buchanan went 5-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 10 starts for Philadelphia this season.
• Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth fouled a ball off the top of his foot in the ninth inning against the Orioles Thursday night, but he was back in the lineup Friday night.