Nats aim for 10th straight win in finale with D-backs
(SportsNetwork.com) - And to think, they've done it all without Gio Gonzalez.
The streaking Washington Nationals send their former 21-game winner to the mound yet again on Thursday afternoon against the Arizona Diamondbacks as the teams get together to wrap up a four-game series at Nationals Park.
First-place Washington has won nine straight games and pushed its lead to seven games over Atlanta in the National League's East Division. The streak is one game shy of tying a franchise record for consecutive wins that was set in 2005.
Four of the last five wins have come in walk-off fashion, including Wednesday's 3-2 triumph that was sealed by Anthony Rendon's pinch-hit single in the ninth inning.
"It's absolutely epic. That's the best word I can put out there," Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said. "It's been incredible. This team has a lot of fight, a lot of heart. We never die."
Harper scored the winning run on Rendon's hit.
"It's exciting for them," manager Matt Williams said. "It's not a whole of fun in the dugout for the staff, but that's OK."
They'll try to keep the wins coming and perhaps lessen the dramatics with Gonzalez, who's reached double-digit wins for four straight seasons but is mired in a seven-start skid that's seen him go 0-5 with a 5.20 earned run average.
He was in line to lose a sixth straight decision on Saturday before Washington rallied to beat Pittsburgh, 4-3.
Gonzalez is 2-0 against the Diamondbacks with a 2.03 ERA.
Arizona has managed just a .192 batting average in the first three games of the series, has lost five straight games while scoring just 11 runs and led late in two of the last three losses.
"It's disappointing," manager Kirk Gibson said. "They've got it rolling and they overtook us again."
Arizona goes with Wade Miley on the mound as he, like Gonzalez, tries to end a drought.
He's gone three starts without a win, including a solid effort against Miami on Saturday in which he allowed one earned run in seven innings but still took a 2-1 loss.
"That's when you've got to focus more," Miley said. "We're all human and make mistakes. It's my job to pick them up. That's really what you try to do."
Miley has started against the Nationals four times and won once, while carrying a 2.59 ERA.
08/21 10:21:03 ET