(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals hope to receive a boost with the pending return of Ryan Zimmerman in Tuesday's opener of a three-game series versus the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park.
Zimmerman has been out since April 12 because of a broken right thumb suffered against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Zimmerman sustained the injury sliding headfirst back into second base in the 6-3 loss and made a few rehab appearances with Class A Potomac.
The third baseman saw action in the outfield and Nationals manager Matt Williams hopes to have his star player back in the lineup.
"A player is never going to tell you the truth, ever," Williams told The Washington Post. "So it's good to see him, and see what his timing looks like. But he doesn't take long to get ready. We want to make sure that it's long- term for the rest of the season."
Zimmerman, who's also battling a balky right throwing shoulder, has been a mainstay on the hot corner for the Nationals and is batting .364 with two homers and six RBI this season. Washington is expected to test Zimmerman in left field once he's activated off the disabled list.
The Nationals didn't need Zimmerman in their first two games against the Texas Rangers this past weekend and outscored the visitors by a 19-4 margin. However, the Nats' bats went cold in Sunday's 2-0 loss and Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish threw eight shutout innings of five-hit ball with 12 strikeouts.
Tanner Roark pitched well in defeat for Washington and allowed one run in seven innings to absorb the loss. Roark's lone run allowed was a homer by Leonys Martin in the seventh inning.
"It was just a bad changeup ... a bad pitch," Roark admitted. "Bad pitches up get hit hard ... and it cost us."
Drew Storen permitted the other run in relief. Denard Span had two of his team's five hits for the Nationals, who have lost seven of 10 games.
Jordan Zimmermann draws the start for the Nationals Tuesday and the club has lost his last two appearances following four straight victories. He is 0-1 in his past two starts and did not receive a decision in last Wednesday's 8-5 setback to Miami, as the right-hander gave up four runs -- three earned -- in five innings.
Zimmermann has a 3-2 record in 11 starts with a 4.07 ERA and is 1-1 in seven starts at Nationals Park. In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Zimmermann owns a 4-5 mark to go along with a 3.94 ERA.
Meanwhile, the struggling Phillies hope a change of scenery will get them back in order after going 4-7 on a recent homestand. The Phillies, who will also visit Cincinnati on this upcoming six-game trek, ended the stay by losing four of five matchups with the despised New York Mets.
The Phillies and Mets played three extra-inning games and New York put the finishing touches on a brilliant set with Monday's 11-2 shellacking of the hosts at Citizens Bank Park. Roberto Hernandez started for the Phillies and was reached for five runs -- four earned -- in 5 1/3 innings.
Jake Diekman was charged with four runs allowed in relief.
"That was the end of a tough series for us," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "(Some) grueling games, tough games. We go on the road and start a new series. Hopefully we can get things going in the right direction."
Ben Revere went 2-for-4 with a run scored, Reid Brignac ended with two hits and Ryan Howard added an RBI, as the Phillies dropped 6 1/2 games off the lead in the NL East. Jimmy Rollins did not play Monday and is 10 hits shy of passing Mike Schmidt (2,234) for the most in franchise lore.
David Buchanan will make his third career start for the Phillies Tuesday. He won his debut on May 24 versus the Los Angeles Dodgers with five innings of two-run ball in a 5-3 win, then tasted defeat in last Thursday's 4-1 loss to the New York Mets.
Buchanan was touched for four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 6 2/3 frames. The right-hander will hit the road for the first time in DC.
Philadelphia won two of three games at home versus Washington in early May, but was 2-7 at Nationals Park a season ago.