The Washington Nationals may like their chances of starting a new winning streak based on the starting pitcher they are facing Saturday.
Struggling San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum seeks his 100th career victory but owns a higher ERA versus the Nationals than against nearly every other NL team as he matches up with Jordan Zimmermann to continue this three-game set.Washington's win streak that matched a team record of 10 games ended with Friday's 10-3 home defeat. The Nationals (73-54) posted a 1.82 ERA during the run before Doug Fister and two relievers were hit hard."It's pretty rare to see 10 in a row," manager Matt Williams said. "But we've got to get back to work tomorrow and see if we can start another one."The club has totaled only seven runs in its last three games but that could change against Lincecum (10-8, 4.48 ERA), who is 1-5 with a 6.08 ERA in nine starts against the Nationals. The only NL club he has a worse ERA against is Cincinnati (9.79).The right-hander is 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA in his last six outings versus Washington.His major Nationals nemesis has been Ian Desmond, a .247 hitter. Desmond is 10 for 14 off the Giants pitcher to make him the only batter with double-digit hits against him with less than 30 plate appearances.Lincecum can become the fifth Giants pitcher to win 100 games in the San Francisco era, joining Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Mike McCormick and Kirk Rueter.He has failed to pitch at least five innings in three of his last five starts, going 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA. He reached that innings total and gave up two runs to earn Sunday's 5-2 victory over Philadelphia.Lincecum may not have much of a margin for error against Zimmermann (8-5, 2.97), who is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA this month in four outings -- all Washington victories.Zimmermann yielded three runs in seven-plus innings of Monday's 5-4, 11-inning win over Arizona. He's 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in five starts against the Giants over the previous three seasons.Hunter Pence is 6 for 16 with a homer against the right-hander and Pablo Sandoval is 4 for 10.San Francisco (68-59) is seeking its first four-game win streak since a five-game run June 4-8 even though the club dropped the completion of a suspended game Thursday that goes into the record books as a defeat on Tuesday.Rookie Joe Panik had his first career four-hit game and first homer Friday as the Giants won for the sixth time in eight games."It's definitely nice to get into a little trot instead of having to bust it into a triple or something," Panik said.Buster Posey is 6 for 9 with homers in each of his last two games, but he's 2 for 11 off Zimmermann.San Francisco maintained its hold on the NL's second wild-card spot while Washington's NL East lead over Atlanta was cut to six games -- baseball's second-largest division advantage behind Baltimore's eight-game AL East cushion over the New York Yankees.The Nationals' Denard Span is hitless in his last 15 at-bats against the Giants.