Nats complete tough 20-game stretch on high note

Washington sweeps Phillies to cap span without off-day

Nats complete tough 20-game stretch on high note

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals completed one of the most grueling parts of their schedule Wednesday night, a stretch of 20 games in 20 days without an off-day.

A three-game sweep over the Phillies this week, capped with Wednesday's 2-1 win, catapulted them to an 11-9 record during that stretch, which included injuries to starting pitchers and short outings from their replacements that can be taxing for a bullpen.

"I'm proud of these guys, 'cause that's a tough stretch," manager Dusty Baker said. "There are some teams that had that same 20-game stretch that didn't do as well. There are a few that did pretty good. The main thing is, we finished strong. I always tell my guys: 'Finish strong.'"

Washington maintained a nine-game lead in the National League East after the stretch and owns the largest lead in the NL East entering September since 2013.

"I feel like a lot of the guys on the team are probably tired, as normal," catcher Wilson Ramos said through an interpreter. "It's a long season. We just have to take advantage of the rest we can get on the off-days after the games, because we have the last month -- that's gonna be big for us, and we have to finish strong."

And after an off-day Thursday, the Nationals will get some reinforcements when rosters expand. That will include some extra pitching help to fill the innings while Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross are on the disabled list as well as backup infielders to spell players such as Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa, whose days off have been few and far between while Stephen Drew is on the DL.

"Our guys, they gave me all they had," Baker said. "Now I'm urging them to have a good day off, get your rest, eat well, and then we'll start up again against the Mets."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.