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Washington ace Stephen Strasburg hasn’t been quite a sharp of late, and he takes the mound Wednesday afternoon in the series finale against the Mets in New York. Bet on Nationals-Mets and every game at WagerWeb.com.
Washington at NY Mets – Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-4, 2.85) vs. Mets RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-3, 5.85): Strasburg’s birthday outing didn’t go his way against the Braves, as he allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 5 1/3. Amid talk about shutting him down come September, he’s lost four of his last five. … Hefner will make just his fourth start of the season and first since June 6, also against Washington. He was called up on Saturday to take the injured Johan Santana’s spot on the roster, and allowed two earned runs in two innings of relief.
Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh – Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster (5-4, 2.11) vs. Pirates RHP Kevin Correia (7-6, 4.31): More than likely, the Cubs will need a spot starter in place of Dempster as he is expected to be an Atlanta Brave by Wednesday. Dempster’s scoreless-innings streak was snapped in an eight-pitch span in the first inning vs. the Cardinals on Friday as they scored three quick runs. … Correia, who could win only on the road last season, has a superior record (4-3) at PNC Park. Correia will try to add on to his career-long streak of five straight wins. But he has needed support for that: He has a 4.05 ERA across the stretch.
Atlanta at Miami – Braves RHP Tommy Hanson (10-5, 4.50) vs. Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-8, 4.55): Hanson has allowed at least six runs in both of his past two starts and surrendered a career-high 19 home runs this year. His inability to consistently command his fastball has plagued him. … Nolasco has lost his two most recent starts, allowing four runs in both of them. In the most recent outing, he gave up two home runs to the Pirates, a team that had never taken him deep before. He is 5-8 lifetime vs. the Braves.
Milwaukee at Philadelphia – Brewers RHP Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.10) vs. Phillies RHP Vance Worley (5-6, 3.82): Estrada remains winless despite pitching reasonably well since coming off the DL in late June. He has not surrendered more than three runs in any of his four starts since then, and has 45 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. … Worley had a Jekyll and Hyde night Friday in a loss to San Francisco. He retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, striking out seven, before allowing eight of the final 13 batters to reach. He allowed six runs in six innings in the loss.
San Diego at San Francisco – Padres RHP Jason Marquis (5-9, 5.58) vs. Giants RHP Tim Lincecum (4-10, 5.72): Marquis has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his past three starts, though he’s only lasted six innings once in that span. His first start for the Padres was against the Giants on June 7, when he allowed two earned runs in six innings. … Lincecum returns home, where his ERA is a respectable 3.43 in nine appearances. He owns a 57-7 career record when the Giants score at least three runs for him. This will be Lincecum’s 21st appearance against San Diego, his most against any club.
Cincinnati at Houston – Reds RHP Homer Bailey (9-6, 3.74) vs. Astros RHP Bud Norris (5-8, 5.33): Bailey beat the Brewers for the first time in his career on Friday, tossing eight innings and allowing just one run on six hits while tying his career high with 10 strikeouts. Bailey has won his past four starts, posting a 1.76 ERA. … Norris struggled with the command of his fastball and didn’t help himself by walking five batters in his previous start — all five walks led to runs. He struck out seven in the outing.
LA Dodgers at St. Louis – Dodgers RHP Aaron Harang (7-5, 3.46) vs. Cardinals RHP Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.71): In three July starts, Harang has allowed no more than four hits, while giving up only five earned runs. He’ll look to continue his success vs. St. Louis, against which he is 1-4 since the 2009 season. … Lohse allowed one run over seven innings on Friday against the Cubs for his ninth straight quality start. He’s allowed more than three runs in a start just twice this season, and has brought his ERA down to 2.71 – the lowest it’s been since May 15.
Colorado at Arizona – Rockies LHP Jeff Francis (2-2, 5.24) vs. Diamondbacks RHP Trevor Cahill (8-8, 3.77): Francis gave up five runs in five innings in his last start, at San Diego, but left the game with the lead, although he didn’t figure in the decision. Francis had given up three or fewer runs his previous six starts. … Cahill continued his first-inning struggles in his most recent outing, against the Astros, despite earning the win. In surrendering two early runs, the 24-year-old increased his season total in the opening frame to 16 earned runs over 19 innings.