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Phils rely on Lee in opener against Nats

(SportsNetwork.com) - Cliff Lee could be making his last start in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, as the left-hander takes the mound Thursday in the opener of a four-game series versus the Washington Nationals.

Lee has been the subject of trade rumors with the deadline looming, but is just 1-3 in his past four decisions. He has allowed 11 runs in his past three starts and was reached for three runs in five innings of a 10-6 setback to Arizona on Saturday, falling to 4-5 this season with a 3.78 ERA.

The southpaw has pitched well on the road this season, going 3-1 in five chances, and is 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 12 career starts against Washington.

Philadelphia could be major players before Thursday's trade deadline and is coming off Wednesday afternoon's 11-2 loss to the New York Mets in the rubber match of a three-game series. Kyle Kendrick continued his struggles on the mound and gave up four runs in six innings of work.

The bullpen surrendered seven runs for the Phillies, who entered the series finale having won four of six games. Jimmy Rollins homered and Ben Revere recorded a team-high two hits, while Ryan Howard knocked in a run.

"If we stay together as a group, there are games to be played and there are teams we can try to catch by playing better baseball and putting wins together," an optimistic Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said afterward.

Washington is back home for eight games and went 5-4 on a recent trek.

The Nationals salvaged the finale of a three-game series in Miami with Wednesday's 4-3 victory, as starting pitcher Tanner Roark improved to 11-6 with seven innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts. Drew Storen ran into some trouble in the ninth, allowing two runs, but posted his first save.

"It's not always pretty, but the important thing is that it got done. That's all that matters," Storen said.

Ian Desmond had a two-run double in a three-run eighth inning and Danny Espinosa posted a pair of hits for the Nationals, who are 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta for the NL East lead.

Gio Gonzalez gets the call for the Nationals Thursday and he is 6-6 with a 3.56 earned run average. Gonzalez is winless (0-2) in his past three trips to the mound and pitched well in a 1-0 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, charged with the only run of the game through seven innings.

Gonzalez is 3-1 in seven starts at Nationals Park this season and 5-3 with a 2.48 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies.

Washington is 6-3 against Philadelphia this season and swept a three-game series in DC from June 3-5.

07/31 10:38:37 ET