Jon Lester, Nationals attempt to take series vs. Orioles

MLB

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez is exercising patience with his ballclub, which continues its three-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Washington opened its nine-game homestand with Friday’s 4-2 victory, but the margin could have been larger. The Nationals recorded 12 hits, but were 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

“It’s just a matter of time before things really start clicking, things start going our way, and we start putting some streaks together,” Martinez said.

There were several positive signs in Friday’s win, as Josh Bell recorded his first three-hit game of the season and Juan Soto continued his hot streak with a pair of hits.

Soto has reached base safely in 11 straight games and is 14-for-43 with a home run and five RBIs over that stretch.

The game also marked the return of right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his first start since April 13.

Strasburg impressed against a Baltimore team that lost for the 11th time in its last 13 games and fell a season-low 10 games under .500 at 17-27.

“We have not played well the past couple weeks,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “We need to get some length out of our starters. We’re running on fumes a little bit right now.”

Trey Mancini had two hits to extend his hitting streak to eight games for the Orioles, who were held to four hits.

Mancini is 3-for-6 over the past two games, while the rest of his teammates are a combined 3-for-51.

The Orioles should receive a spark from right fielder Anthony Santander, who returned to the lineup Friday after being sidelined since April 20 due to a sprained left ankle. He was 1-for-4 while batting fourth in his return.

Santander figures to be in the lineup again versus Washington starter Jon Lester (0-2, 3.80). The left-hander is still seeking his first victory after giving up five earned runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Freddy Galvis is 4-for-21 with two homers against the 37-year-old left-hander, who owns a 15-4 mark and 2.78 ERA in 27 career starts against Baltimore.

Lester last faced the Orioles as a member of the Boston Red Sox on July 5, 2014, when he tossed eight scoreless innings at Fenway Park.

Baltimore starter Bruce Zimmermann (2-3, 4.79) is looking to build on an encouraging showing last Sunday, when he allowed one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings of relief and earned the victory against the New York Yankees.

The 26-year-old left-hander retired 17 of 20 hitters in his first major league appearance since May 2, striking out a career-high six batters.

Zimmermann, who had started in his previous six appearances this season, will be facing Washington for the first time in his career.

Washington is monitoring the status of center fielder Victor Robles, who has missed the past two games after injuring his right ankle in Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. The 24-year-old underwent an MRI on Friday.

–Field Level Media

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