The Padres are on a season-long six game losing streak coming into the series against the NL East's second place Nationals. Tonight they'll kick off the three-game set at Nationals Park with Andrew Cashner taking the mound as they try to avoid their longest losing streak since 2011.
Cashner made his first and only career start against the Nationals back in May and tossed 6 2/3 frames of three-run ball to earn the win. Prior to that start, he had gone 1-0 in 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen against Washington. Altogether, he has posted a 2.19 ERA in 12 1/3 innings against the NL East team and hopes to keep his record untarnished against them tonight.
The right-hander is coming off a great month despite recording only one win and getting four no-decisions. The Padres went 2-3 in his starts in June, but Cashner averaged over seven innings per start and allowed three runs or fewer in each. He's only gotten a combined 13 runs of support in that stretch and a struggling bullpen hasn't helped either.
San Diego hopes to get a little boost in their lineup tonight with the expected return of Everth Cabrera, who has missed 17 games while on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Prior to his injury, he had batted .305 on the season with four home runs and was leading the NL with 31 stolen bases. The Padres have hit a measly .180 while scoring just seven total runs during their six-game losing streak, so hopefully Cabrera's return will help spark an offensive resurgence.
Cabrera is 1-for-3 with a walk all-time against tonight's starter for the Nats, Gio Gonzalez. Chris Denorfia is 3-for-7 and Carlos Quentin is 5-for-11 with a home run, four RBI, and four walks against the lefty.
Gonzalez went winless for eight consecutive starts before recording victories in each of his last two. His last time out, he put up a spectacular performance against the Mets, holding them to three hits in seven scoreless innings. In his last six starts, he is 2-0 with a 1.79 ERA and 44 strikeouts. He is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two previous starts against the Padres. He didn't factor into the decision when he faced them in May at Petco Park, giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings. The Nationals went on to win that game and split the four-game series in San Diego.
The Nationals have put together 17 runs of support over Gonzalez' last two starts. Last night they scored eight runs in their win over Milwaukee to secure a series split. They benefited from the return of Wilson Ramos, whose strained hamstring caused him to miss 44 games. In his first game back last night, he went 3-for-4 with five RBI (a career high), including the go-ahead three-run shot.
Bryce Harper, on the other hand, hasn't done as well in his return. After hitting a home run in his first at-bat back from the DL, Harper has gone 0-for-14 with six strikeouts. But he'll try to get back on track in this series with San Diego, against whom he's hit three homers in four career games.