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Nationals-Diamondbacks Preview


Nationals-Diamondbacks Preview
The Arizona Diamondbacks are suddenly struggling, particularly at the plate. A matchup with Tim Redding and the Washington Nationals could be just what they need to get back on track.

The Diamondbacks, losers of a season-high four straight games, look to continue their dominance of Redding and the Nationals when the teams open a three-game series Friday night.

Arizona (30-24) remains in first place in the NL West, 3 1/2 games ahead of the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers, but it has dropped nine of its last 13 games.

"The way it's going right now, if we make a bad pitch or don't make a play, it ends up costing us," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "When you're playing well, sometimes you get away with those things."

Arizona has scored three runs or less in nine of those contests, including a 4-3 loss to San Francisco on Thursday night in which it went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Arizona has three of the five players with the most strikeouts in the National League: Justin Upton (64), Mark Reynolds (63) and Chris Young (57). Upton hit .097 (3-for-31) with 21 strikeouts in nine games before going 2-for-4 on Thursday.

Facing the Nationals (23-32) gives the Diamondbacks a chance to end their struggles. Washington, in last place in the NL East, has a 4.44 ERA.

Arizona went 6-1 versus Washington last season, scoring six runs or more four times, and it didn't even get a chance to face Redding (6-3, 3.59 ERA). The right-hander, who wasn't called up to the Nationals in 2007 until July, has posted a 7.29 ERA en route to losing his last four starts against the Diamondbacks and is 0-5 with a 6.30 ERA versus them all-time.

Redding, though, hasn't faced Arizona since April 22, 2005.

He is coming off his worst start of the season, allowing five runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings as Washington lost 7-6 to Milwaukee on Sunday after giving up two runs or less in four of his previous five starts.

The Diamondbacks, trying to avoid matching their longest losing streak of last season, will counter with Micah Owings (6-2, 3.73). He is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in his last four starts.

Owings was also outstanding against Washington as a rookie last season, going 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in two outings.

In his last start this season, the right-hander gave up three runs - two earned - and six hits in six innings to earn a win as Arizona beat Atlanta 9-3 on Sunday.

Owings will be facing a Washington lineup that ranks among the worst in the majors. The Nationals went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and collected only four hits overall in a 5-2 loss to San Diego on Thursday.

Washington has a .233 team batting average this season, and hit just .224 (52-for-232) with 53 strikeouts against Arizona in 2007.

"We need to score runs - that's what it is," Acta said told the team's official Web site. "We just need to get something going offensively."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 30, 2008

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