for this game

Nats hope to keep rolling with Hernandez on hill vs. Cardinals

Jun 15, 2011 - 3:08 PM (Sports Network) - Aiming for their longest winning streak of the season, the Washington Nationals hope a lengthy personal winless drought won't affect veteran Livan Hernandez's approach on the mound.

Hernandez looks to hurl the Nats to a fifth straight victory while extending the St. Louis Cardinals' longest skid of the season tonight in the middle contest of a three-game series at Nationals Park.

The 36-year-old Hernandez hasn't won since April 28, dropping six straight decisions as well as back-to-back starts since. Often a victim of poor run support over his skid, Hernandez doesn't have anyone to blame but himself following his most recent outing as he gave up six runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings of a 7-3 setback in San Diego on Thursday.

The right-hander fell to 3-8 in 14 starts with a 4.15 earned run average.

A return home could pay off for Hernandez -- he is 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA in six starts at Nationals Park this season -- as could Washington's current wave of momentum. The Nats haven't lost since Hernandez's last start, winning their final three games at San Diego before beginning this current series with last night's 8-6 victory over St. Louis, giving Washington four straight wins for the first time since April 15-20.

The Nationals fell behind early versus the Cardinals, with Albert Pujols hitting a two-run homer and Lance Berkman adding a solo shot and a pair of RBI. However, Washington battled for six runs in the seventh inning and pinch- hitter Laynce Nix finally put his team ahead by drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Danny Espinosa, who scored the tying run in the frame on a wild pitch, ended with three hits and an RBI, while Ryan Zimmerman posted an RBI double in the seventh in his first game in more than two months due to a torn abdominal muscle that required surgery.

"We got a couple breaks, a couple big hits, great at-bat by Nix to draw the walk," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "There were a lot of great at- bats and the bullpen did a good job also."

Washington is hoping to win five straight for the first time since ending the 2009 season on a seven-game winning streak, but may have to do so without outfielder Rick Ankiel. He left the game in the bottom of the second inning with a strained left intercostal muscle and is day-to-day.

The injury came on the same day that Washington learned that first baseman Adam LaRoche will miss the rest of the season due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder that will require surgery.

St. Louis' late-inning falter gave them a season-worst four-game slide and dropped the club to just 2-5 on a nine-game road trip. The Cards haven't lost five straight since Aug. 28-Sept. 1, but remain tied with the Brewers for first place in the National League Central.

"It was a nightmare of a seventh inning," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It was uncharacteristic."

La Russa hopes a fresh face can help get his club on track as right-hander Kyle McClellan will make his first start since May 30 after missing time due to a left hip flexor strain. McClellan was tagged for a season-high seven runs on seven hits over just four innings of a 7-3 loss to the Giants in his last appearance, but is ready to go tonight.

"I don't expect anything different," McClellan told St. Louis' website. "I expect to continue what I, for the most part, was doing. I don't expect any limitations by any means."

McClellan, who turned 27 on Sunday, is 6-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) this year and will make his first career start versus the Nationals. He has faced them eight times in relief, allowing four runs over 7 2/3 innings.

Hernandez is 6-7 with a 4.71 ERA in 19 career starts against St. Louis.

The Cardinals took two of three from the Nats back in April and have won nine of 14 and 16 of their last 23 against the Nationals overall.

  • ST. LOUIS: 0

    Jun 15 9:32 PM

  • Jayson Werth lead-off Home Run (9) to center. Roger Bernadina due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 10  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 15 9:20 PM

  • Ivan Rodriguez singled to right. Runner on first with two outs and Livan Hernandez due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 9  Bot 7, 2 OutsJun 15 9:01 PM

  • Ian Desmond single to center scored Ivan Rodriguez with one out. Runner on first and Jayson Werth due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 6  Bot 6, 1 OutJun 15 8:42 PM
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    Cardinals 0, Nationals 5  Top 5, 1 OutJun 15 8:15 PM

  • Roger Bernadina double to left scored Ivan Rodriguez with two out. On the play, Ian Desmond advances to third. Runners on second and third and Ryan Zimmerman due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 5  Bot 4, 2 OutsJun 15 8:11 PM

  • Ian Desmond reached first on Albert Pujols's fielding error scored Danny Espinosa with one out. On the play, Ivan Rodriguez advances to third. Runners on first and third and Jayson Werth due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 4  Bot 4, 1 OutJun 15 8:06 PM

  • Ivan Rodriguez single to right scored Michael Morse with none out. On the play, Danny Espinosa advances to third. Runners on first and third and Livan Hernandez due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 3  Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 15 8:03 PM
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    Cardinals 0, Nationals 2  Top 4, 2 OutsJun 15 7:57 PM

  • Ryan Zimmerman single to center scored Jayson Werth with two out. On the play, Roger Bernadina advances to second. Runners on first and second and Laynce Nix due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 2  Bot 3, 2 OutsJun 15 7:47 PM
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    Cardinals 0, Nationals 1  Bot 3, 2 OutsJun 15 7:42 PM

  • Michael Morse one-out, solo Home Run (11) to left. Danny Espinosa due up.

    Cardinals 0, Nationals 1  Bot 2, 1 OutJun 15 7:28 PM
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    Cardinals 0, Nationals 0  Mid 2Jun 15 7:23 PM

  • ST. LOUIS: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Jun 15 7:08 PM
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    Cardinals vs. NationalsJun 15 12:03 PM
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    Cardinals vs. NationalsJun 12 6:48 PM