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WSH@CHC: Strasburg fans eight over 8 2/3 innings

Although October aspirations are all but extinguished, the Phillies can still play spoiler to a division rival clinging to playoff hopes.

The Nationals head into Philadelphia on Monday looking to gain ground on Cincinnati in pursuit of a Wild Card spot as they trail the Reds by 6 1/2 games.

The Phillies will send Cole Hamels to the mound against Washington, opening a nine-game homestand with three apiece against the Nationals, Braves and Padres.

Hamels put together a promising August, going 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in six starts. He is coming off an impressive start against the Mets, in which he allowed nine hits, two runs, one walk and struck out eight in seven innings, as he continues to bounce back from a poor first half.

"You have to keep pressing. You have to keep digging deep," Hamels said after the win.

Through June 26, Hamels had just two victories and a 4.58 ERA, but the lefty has rebounded with a 4-2 record and a 2.25 ERA since, surrendering more than two earned runs just twice. The Phillies are 7-4 in that span.

"It's huge for just his own sake," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's pitched well all year, but he seems to be catching some breaks."

The Phillies are scheduled to face Stephen Strasburg, the powerful right-hander who has spelled trouble for Jimmy Rollins in the past. The Phillies' shortstop is hitting .125 (2-for-16) with six strikeouts in his career against Strasburg. Strasburg tossed just two innings his last time out. He didn't return after a long rain delay due to a stiff back, but will start Monday on regular rest.

Strasburg threw his first and only career complete game -- a shutout -- against the Phillies on Aug. 11, striking out 10 batters.

Nationals: Postseason slipping out of reach
Despite Sunday's win against the Mets, Washington still lost two out of three in the series and it must turn things around quickly in the Wild Card race.

"Obviously, we know that we're running out of time," outfielder Denard Span said before Sunday's win.

Phillies: Hernandez, Martinez recalled to fill trade holes
Philadelphia recalled infielder/outfielders Cesar Hernandez and Michael Martinez from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sunday to fill the roster holes created by Saturday's trades of Michael Young and John McDonald to the Dodgers and Red Sox, respectively.

"[Martinez] hasn't had an extended period of success offensively, but he's a versatile player," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "There aren't many guys that can play short, play center, and play basically every single position on the field except catcher.

"We're giving [Hernandez] opportunities to play all over the place, because he's got value in his bat and his offense. I think he's good enough to be an everyday second baseman at the big league level, but Chase Utley is our second baseman."

Martinez batted .167 (5-for-30) through 21 big league games this season. Hernandez made nine appearances with the Phillies in late May-early June, going 7-for-28.

Worth noting
• With the season winding down, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is unlikely to return in its final month as he recovers from left knee surgery.

"I think it's doubtful that he'll be back this year," Amaro said. "I think he's making progress, which is great. … [But] I'm not in any rush to have Ryan here if he's not 100 percent."

• In 26 career starts against the Nationals, Hamels is 14-6 with a 2.57 ERA. He went eight innings, yielding one run on six hits and a walk in his last outing against Washington on July 9. Comments