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Nationals-Phillies preview

PHILADELPHIA -- A.J. Ellis, the Philadelphia Phillies' recently acquired catcher, has made an immediate impact with his new team.

The same cannot be said of Jake Thompson, the Phillies' rookie right-hander.

Thompson (1-3, 9.78) will be looking to get untracked Monday, when the Phillies open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. Tanner Roark (13-7, 2.99) gets the start for the National League East leaders.

Thompson, called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in early August, has not worked more than five innings, nor allowed fewer than three runs, in any of his four major league starts to date. His last time out he lost on the road to the Chicago White Sox, surrendering seven runs on eight hits in five innings while striking out two and walking four.

In 19 1/3 innings to date, he has walked 13 while allowing 22 hits, a far cry from the form he showed at Lehigh Valley, where he gave up 105 hits and walked just 37 in 129 2/3 innings.

"I'm not used to this," Thompson said after the loss to White Sox, according to Major League Baseball's official web site. "The issue is pretty evident. I'm not throwing strikes, and when I am throwing strikes, they're not good strikes. It's coming back to the drawing board and figuring it out a little bit."

Thompson has never faced Washington.

Ellis, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for fellow catcher Carlos Ruiz last Thursday, belted a tie-breaking two-run double in the seventh inning of his first game with Philadelphia, a 5-1 road victory over the New York Mets on Sunday.

"It felt good regardless of what's happened in the last four days," Ellis said, according to MLB.com. "It feels good to drive in runs, feels good to help put your team ahead and help contribute to a team win."

Roark, a model of consistency most of the season for the Nationals, is winless in his last two starts. His last time out he absorbed a 10-8 loss to Baltimore, going five innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits while striking out four and walking three.

It was Roark's shortest outing in his last six starts, and the most runs he has allowed in the same span. All five of those runs came in the first two innings, when he threw 62 pitches and hit three batters.

"I couldn't locate; it was as simple as that," Roark said, according to MLB.com. "I was trying to go inside to get them off the plate and make them feel uncomfortable. That's how I pitch. Obviously not my best outing. What I love is that we came back and came pretty darn close to tying it up or possibly winning it."

Roark is 4-5 with a 4.35 ERA in 10 career games against the Phillies, eight of them starts.

The Nationals' comeback attempt also fell short Sunday, in a 5-3 loss to Colorado. They spotted the Rockies a 4-1 lead after three innings, but could muster only three solo homers, by Trae Turner, Wilson Ramos and Bryce Harper.

Harper's homer, his 23rd of the season, was a leadoff shot off reliever Boone Logan in the ninth inning. Adam Ottavino, Logan's successor, then retired Anthony Rendon, Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman, sending Washington to its sixth loss in eight games.