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Struggling Philliies counting on Nola against Nationals

Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies will face the Washington Nationals for the final time of the 2018 season Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Nola, a Cy Young candidate, is looking for his fourth win in five tries against the Phillies' divisional foe this season. Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.04 ERA) will be on the mound for Washington.

The scuffling Phillies are coming off one of their most disheartening days of the season. They were swept by the Nationals in a Tuesday doubleheader and blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of the nightcap. Juan Soto hit a pair of homers in the Nationals' 7-6 win.

The Phillies (74-70) are 2-8 in their last 10 games, 11-22 since Aug. 5 and are six games back of Atlanta.

The Nationals -- who are 73-73 and 7 1/2 games back of Atlanta -- have already captured the season series against Philadelphia, winning 10 of the first 18 games.

Nola (16-4, 2.29) has been great against nearly every team he's faced this season. He's been dominant against the Nationals.

The 25-year-old righty is 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA, 0.907 WHIP and 9.4 K/9 rate in four starts against the Nationals. That includes a pair of August starts in which Nola out-pitched two-time reigning National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer.

Nola, who is 4-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 career starts against the Nationals, has posted a 4.97 ERA in his first two starts of September, but he has 19 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings this month. He held the New York Mets to three runs on three hits and struck out eight in seven innings last Saturday.

Strasburg threw 5 2/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last start. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six. It was Strasburg's fourth start after spending a month on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck.

"It's getting better," Strasburg told MLB.com. "Velocity isn't quite there just yet, but the life is there so I think that's a positive. I just keep grinding, just keep working at it, and it seems like there are stretches when it feels better and there are stretches when it doesn't feel as consistent, but I think anybody can say the same thing."

The righty has a 3.06 ERA over his last three starts. That stretch includes his last win, which came when he tossed six innings against the Phillies on Aug. 27.

Strasburg has had a lot of success against the Phillies in his career. He's 11-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 0.914 WHIP in 23 career starts against the franchise, and Strasburg has a 1.62 career ERA in nine appearances at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies first baseman Justin Bour has hit Strasburg better than anyone in the Phillies lineup. Bour is 8-for-24 with two homers, seven RBI and a 1.054 OPS lifetime off Strasburg.
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