The Washington Times - May 4, 2011, 11:55AM

PHILADELPHIA — The Nationals have now faced the Philadelphia Phillies four times this season. They’ve had complete games thrown against them by the Phillies’ starters in three of those four contests. 

Cole Hamels was the latest Phillies’ “ace” to go the distance against them, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee doing so in Washington last month. The Nationals’ lone victory in the season series has come against right-hander Joe Blanton but, with Blanton on the disabled list with impingement in his right elbow, the Nationals don’t have the good fortune of facing Blanton this time around.

SEE RELATED:


Instead they’ll get rookie Vance Worley and the element of the uknown could work in favor of either side.

Only three Nationals have ever faced Worley in his brief major league career (he’s started just three big league games). 

But one member of the Nationals is quite familiar with Worley.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa was teammates with Worley at Long Beach State University and both were drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft — Espinosa going to the Nationals with the 87th overall pick and Worley heading to Philadelphia at No. 102 overall.

The two also faced each other several times throughout their time in the minor leagues, mostly in 2010 when both split time between Double-A in the Eastern League and Triple-A in the International League. Between the two leagues, Worley worked to 10-7 record with a 3.36 ERA before a September call up (after a brief one-game relief appearance in the major leagues in July).

Worley impressed in his first major league start of the year, holding the Mets to just two hits over six innings, walking four and striking out five as part of a Phillies victory.

Still, with the Nationals’ offense hitting a combined .225 — and carrying an absurdly low .301 on-base percentage — any time they can get through a three-game series with the Phillies without facing three straight potential aces, they have to consider it a bonus. 

Jason Marquis, fresh off a complete game shutout of the Mets last Friday, will take the ball for the Nationals.

Here are the Nationals limited major league numbers against Worley:

Danny Espinosa: 0-for-1

Rick Ankiel: 0-for-2, 1 K

Jayson Werth: Never faced

Adam LaRoche: Never faced

Wilson Ramos: Never faced

Michael Morse: Never faced

Ian Desmond: 1-for-1

Jerry Hairston Jr.: Never faced

Jason Marquis: Never faced