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Pittsburgh at Washington

Venue: Nationals Park
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Even if Gio Gonzalez can continue his outstanding pitching, the Washington Nationals' slumping offense hasn't shown it can provide enough runs to end the team's lengthy slide.

The Pittsburgh Pirates hope to take advantage of those troubles and complete their first four-game road sweep of the Washington/Montreal franchise in 25 years Thursday.

Washington (48-53), the defending NL East champion, had its late rally fall short against a Pittsburgh team playing without injured All-Star closer Jason Grilli (forearm) in Wednesday's 4-2 loss.

The struggling Nationals had only two hits over the first eight innings before managing three in the ninth, including Jayson Werth's two-run home run, but still lost their season-worst sixth straight contest.

While Werth is 5 for 12 with five homers and eight RBIs in his last four games, Washington has gone 2 for 35 (.057) with runners in scoring position and totaled 13 runs during its skid.

Star left fielder Bryce Harper (knee) and shortstop Ian Desmond (hand blister) missed Wednesday's contest, but could be back as the Nationals look to avoid their longest losing streak since an eight-game slide from Aug. 28 - Sept. 5, 2009.

"We need to win some games,'' Wednesday's losing pitcher Stephen Strasburg said. "It's getting to the point where our back's against the wall.''

Gonzalez (7-3, 2.89 ERA) seems poised to keep them close since he's 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last nine starts.

The left-hander matched a career high with 11 strikeouts and yielded four hits over six shutout innings, but was given only one run of support in Washington's eventual 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

He'll try to build on his 2-0 record with a 2.84 ERA in his fourth career start against the Pirates (60-39) after surrendering two runs and five hits over six innings in a 6-2 victory at Pittsburgh on May 5.

Starling Marte took Gonzalez deep in that meeting, though he enters this meeting 1 for 21 in his last five games.

Following his own 1-for-21 stretch, teammate Pedro Alvarez may be heating up after going 3 for 7 with two home runs in the last two games of this series.

He'll try to help the Pirates win their fifth straight and claim their first four-game road sweep in this rivalry since June 23-26, 1988.

A.J. Burnett (4-7, 3.05) has gone 1-5 with a 3.39 ERA over his last 10 starts thanks in part to a Pittsburgh offense that has given him just 19 runs of support over that span. That's been a common theme for Burnett - his 3.07 run-support average ranks among the lowest in the major leagues.

The right-hander allowed four runs in the first inning but settled down and struck out eight in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday. He yielded five runs - two earned - and a season-high 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings.

Only two of his 15 career starts versus Washington/Montreal have come within the past two seasons. Burnett has struck out 19 while going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings in those outings - both Pittsburgh victories.

While Burnett has made things tough on Ryan Zimmerman (0 for 9) and Desmond (0 for 7), Adam LaRoche is 3 for 6 with a home run since 2010.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

A.J. Burnett, RHP
2013 stats
105.2 Innings Pitched 124.2
4-7 Wins-Losses 7-3
3.07 Earned Run Average 2.89
43 Walks 49
118 Strikeouts 125
101 Pitches Per Start 105
Career vs. opponent
107.0 Innings Pitched 19.0
8-3 Wins-Losses 2-0
3.20 Earned Run Average 2.84

Gio Gonzalez, LHP
Weather
weather image  More clouds than sun. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
79°F64°F8mph/N54%21%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central7880.494234-6 W 1
Washington1st NL East9366.585-5-5 W 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Gio Gonzalez
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Harrison32100.667
Martin73031.429
Marte31100.333
Mercer31000.333
McCutchen82010.250
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs A.J. Burnett
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Hairston32000.667
LaRoche207138.350
Ramos31102.333
Suzuki237034.304
Span247019.292
 

Related Video

Injuries
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
F. CervelliHand
G. ColeElbow
B. CumptonElbow
E. DiazLeg
N. FelizArm
J. HarrisonGroin
K. HayesRibs
S. MarteBack
A. MeadowsOblique
J. MercerForearm
G. PolancoNeck
C. SadlerForearm
A. SchugelShoulder
C. StewartKnee
Washington
PlayerInjury
B. ArroyoShoulder
A. BarrettElbow
B. HarperThumb
D. MurphyUpper Leg
W. RamosKnee
S. StrasburgElbow
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 7WASMIA 6-4Phelps Roark 
Apr 9WASPPD   
Apr 10WASWAS 4-2Ross Koehler 
Apr 18MIAMIA 6-1Fernandez Roark 
Apr 19MIAWAS 7-0Strasburg Conley 
Apr 20MIAWAS 3-1Petit Chen 
Apr 21MIAMIA 5-1Koehler Scherzer 
May 13WASWAS 5-3Treinen Barraclough 
May 14WASWAS 6-4Strasburg Nicolino 
May 14WASMIA 7-1Urena Roark 
May 15WASMIA 5-1Fernandez Ross 
May 20MIAWAS 4-1Roark Nicolino 
May 21MIAMIA 3-2Fernandez Ross 
May 22MIAWAS 8-2Scherzer Conley 
Sep 19MIAMIA 4-3Ellington Latos 
Sep 20MIAMIA 1-0Fernandez Roark 
Sep 21MIAWAS 8-3Scherzer Koehler 
Sep 30WAS 7:05 PM EDT  
Oct 1WAS 4:05 PM EDT  
Oct 2WAS 3:05 PM EDT