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Saturday, July 14th 2018, 4:42am

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The Washington Nationals‘ bats finally came alive Friday night. They hope
that offense shows up again Saturday as the Nationals attempt to win two
straight games for the first time in more than three weeks.

After a 17-7 rout on Friday night Dallas Cowboys Jerseys
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, the Nationals can pull even with the Philadelphia Phillies
for second place in the National League East with a win Saturday at Citizens
Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Washington hit seven home runs against the Phillies on Friday, including two
by rookie Juan Soto and the 20th of the season from Bryce Harper. The team
scored 17 runs on 18 hits in the win after combining for three runs on 12 hits
in its previous three games.



The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Nationals, who are
9-15 in June and have not won consecutive games since June 5-6. Still, they are
42-38 on the season and one game behind the Phillies in the division.

Right-hander Vince Velasquez (5-8 Bo
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, 4.69 ERA) will try to keep the Phillies
in second place on Saturday.

With one exception, Velasquez has been reliable for the Phillies over the
last two months. The hard-throwing righty has allowed fewer than three earned
runs in seven of his last 10 starts. He allowed 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against
the Milwaukee Brewers on June 8 but has a 2.73 ERA in his other nine starts
dating back to May 5.

Velasquez, who averages 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings, had seven
strikeouts in six innings against the Yankees on Monday. He gave up two runs on
three hits and four walks in the outing and took the loss as the Phillies’
offense struggled in the 4-2 defeat.

“I had a couple walks here and there Mark Walton
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, and I had to pitch around some guys,” Velasquez
told reporters after the game. “It’s a tough lineup to face.”

Saturday’s start will be Velasquez’s sixth in his career against Washington.
He is 2-2 with a 5.33 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in his first five starts. This season,
Velasquez held the Nationals to one run on one hit and four walks over five
innings in a May 5 start in which he got the win.

Jeremy Hellickson is expected to be activated off the disabled list and make
the Saturday start for the Nationals. Hellickson (2-0, 2.28) strained his right
hamstring in a June 3 start and has not pitched since.

He made a rehab start for Class A Potomac last Sunday and gave up 11 runs in
4 2/3 innings. But he said he felt healthy after the outing.

“Physically Cheap
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, I felt fine,” Hellickson told the
Washington Post last week. “I mean, obviously not how I wanted it to go, but I
felt fine. Felt my stuff was pretty good. Just command was a little
shaky Youth
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, but (my) hammy was 100 percent.”

Hellickson was solid before the injury. He posted a 1.30 ERA and .548
opponent OPS in five starts during May, and the Nationals won each of those
outings.

Hellickson pitched for the Phillies in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his only
career start against Philadelphia, Hellickson did not allow an earned run in
eight innings while with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015
season.
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