Cole Hamels and Stephen Strasburg will face off for the second time this season when they toe the rubber on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.
The last time they opposed each another on July 12, neither factored in the decision as Hamels allowed three runs in seven innings in what has otherwise been an extraordinary stretch for the southpaw.
Hamels followed a 1.23 ERA in June with a 1.94 ERA in July. Additionally, he went 4-1 in July for a Phillies team that went 12-15. Hamels has a 1.58 ERA (15 earned runs in 85 2/3 innings) in his last 12 starts, putting him on one of the best rolls in his already successful career.
Hamels was a popular name as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approached, but the 30-year-old was adamant throughout the entire process about his desire to remain in south Philly.
"All I know is I signed here for a very extended period of time, so that's what I'm going to uphold, to be a Phillie as long as I possibly can because I enjoy it," said Hamels, who signed a six-year, $144 million contract in July 2012. "This is the place that I want to win again. It was such a great experience. Especially these young guys, you can't tell them enough that this is a place you want to win a World Series, because it's the most exciting time you'll ever have in your career. For me, I want to be able to have it again here."
Strasburg, meanwhile, has a 3.55 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and a league-leading 167 strikeouts, but only a 7-9 record to show for it. After surrendering eight earned runs in 12 1/3 innings over his two previous starts, Strasburg rebounded on Tuesday, holding the Marlins to just one run on four hits.
"I was trying to keep the ball down and pitch to contact -- trying to go in and out," Strasburg said.
Still, Strasburg has been saddled with the loss in each of his last three starts and may need to replicate last Tuesday's performance to give the Nats a chance to win with Hamels opposing them.
After going 3-1 in the first four series after the All-Star break, the National League East-leading Nats are hoping for a 2-2 series split with the Phils after losing the first two games of the series.
Nationals: Williams thinks Harper close to finding stroke
Bryce Harper has been fooling around occasionally with his batting stance while trying to find some answers at the plate, and manager Matt Williams said he understands what's going on.
"Nobody can feel what you're feeling at the plate unless you're seeing the ball come at you," Williams said before Saturday's game. "You can tell people things, and eventually it comes down to feel and timing and rhythm and all that. And nobody can do that for any player except the player that's standing in there."
Harper missed 57 games after injuring his thumb on April 25 and subsequently having surgery, and he's been up and down at times. He had just a .228 batting average in July, although Harper hit well at times and is hitting .260 after going 1-for-4 in Saturday's 11-0 win over the Phillies.
Phillies: Top pick Nola promoted to Double-A
The Phillies promoted Aaron Nola, their first-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, to Double-A Reading on Saturday after the former LSU right-hander compiled a 3.16 ERA in seven appearances, six of them starts, for Class A Advanced Clearwater.
The Phillies selected Nola with the No. 7 overall pick in June's Draft. He went 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 16 starts for the Tigers this past spring. He is ranked as the Phillies' No. 2 prospect by MLB.com.
"He's just showed a good power arm, a real good fastball," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It's a quick move for him, but he was ready for it."
• Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee met with team physician Steve Cohen on Saturday to evaluate the strained throwing elbow he sustained against the Nationals on Thursday night. Sandberg had no update when he met with the media, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Comcast SportsNet on Friday that there was no indication of "ligament issues" in Lee's elbow.
• Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown sat out Saturday for the second straight game because of strep throat. It is the second time Brown has come down with the illness in the past month.
• With a single in the first inning on Saturday, Nats outfielder Denard Span has reached base safely via hit or walk in 28 straight games dating to June 28.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.