A battle of two tough lefties

PHILADELPHIA - The Nationals have struggled mightily against left-handed pitching this season, and they'll face one of the toughest left-handers in the bigs tonight when they take on Cliff Lee.

Lee is 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA this season, and he held the Nats to two runs over eight strong innings back on June 18 in a Phillies win here at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nats are hitting .215/.281/.336 against left-handers this season. What's there to that?

"I don't know," Adam LaRoche said last night. "The way it's going this year. It's been going great lately, don't get me wrong. It's been a frustrating (last) two days. I don't know that it's made a huge difference left or right-handed. Obviously the numbers speak different, and what is just our inconsistency throughout the year. A bunch of them happen to be lefties."

In order to avoid dropping back to a game above .500 and dropping their third straight, the Nats will need to get something done against Lee tonight.

Scott Hairston is not in the Nats' lineup today after getting the start and going 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot last night. Hairston is 6-for-28 (.214) with two homers and a double off Lee in his career.

Gio Gonzalez gets the start for the Nats, looking to improve upon his 6-3 record and 3.14 ERA.

Interestingly enough, both Gonzalez (Phillies' system, 2006) and Lee (Expos' system, 2000-2003) pitched in the minor league systems of their opponent tonight, but neither pitched for the opponent's big league club.

For the Nats
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
LF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez

For the Phillies
CF Ben Revere
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
LF Domonic Brown
3B Michael Young
RF Delmon Young
1B Darin Ruf
C Carlos Ruiz
LHP Cliff Lee

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