As they search for a midseason revival, the Nationals will try to keep their three-game home winning streak alive against the Rockies at Nationals Park on Friday.
Back at .500 with a win in the opener of a four-game series with Colorado on Thursday, the Nationals welcome the opportunity to play 34 of their next 49 games in Washington. And they will have more than a fighting chance to extend the streak to four games with flame-throwing ace Stephen Strasburg making his first home start since May 26.
Strasburg was limited to 82 pitches and five innings Sunday, his first game back from a stint on the disabled list, but will have no predetermined pitch count Friday.
But for Strasburg to pick up his fourth win, he will need improved support from his offense. Still without offensive sparkplug Bryce Harper, the Nationals rank near the bottom of the National League with 254 runs this year.
"The middle of my lineup is my biggest concern," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "If they start doing what I know they're capable of doing, then the other guys will be fine. Sometimes the other guys try to do too much, and that just exacerbates the problem. But I like where we're at."
The Rockies, trying to end a four-game skid, will put a young right-hander of their own on the mound in Tyler Chatwood. Though the sample size is limited at seven starts, Chatwood's 2.33 ERA is the lowest in the Rockies' rotation. After tallying just one run Thursday, the Rockies also hope to awaken their bats.
"We need to take a lead," Todd Helton said. "We really haven't had a lead. It would be nice to get out and get one. We need to do that tomorrow. That'll be the gameplan."
Colorado cut Chatwood off at five innings in his last start, his first back from a right triceps injury, but he should be back at full strength Thursday.
Rockies: Cuddyer still raking
• Michael Cuddyer's 18-game hitting streak is the longest active streak in the Majors.
Red Sox third baseman Jose Iglesias held the slight edge over Cuddyer, but he finished 0-for-2 Wednesday to end his streak at 18 games. The streak is a career high for Cuddyer and passed former Rockie Matt Holliday's 17-game streak from 2007.
• Thursday's loss pushed the Rockies back to .500 for the first time since April 2, when they were 1-1.
• Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler missed his third straight game Thursday and could be out again Friday.
He tested his sore right hand in the batting cage before Thursday's game, but swinging a bat brought enough discomfort to keep him out. The injury occurred June 13 when a pitch struck his hand.
Desmond homer extends power streak
• Ian Desmond's second-inning homer gave the Nationals at least one home run in their last 81 consecutive series. It is the longest streak in the Majors and the longest in franchise history.
• Ryan Zimmerman finished 0-for-4 Thursday night, ending his 17-game hitting streak against the Rockies.
• Tyler Chatwood makes his first career appearance against the Nationals on Friday. They are one of just six big league clubs the 23-year-old has never faced.
• In two career starts against Colorado, Strasburg is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA and 14 strikeouts. Rockies center fielder Tyler Colvin is a perfect 3-for-3 facing Strasburg with two home runs and three RBIs.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.