- Associated Press - Sunday, August 3, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cole Hamels enjoyed facing another ace Sunday, even though Stephen Strasburg was just a little better.

Although Hamels gave up one unearned run over seven innings, the Phillies fell 4-0 to the Nationals, snapping a three-start winning streak for the left-hander.

Strasburg (8-9) was a big reason for that, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10 and not allowing a runner past second.

“He and I are just trying to compete at the highest level and put up as many zeroes as we possibly can against each other,” said Hamels (6-6). “I think it brings the ultimate competition out.”

The last-place Phillies settled for a four-game split agains the NL East-Leading Nationals.

The aces previously dueled on July 12 in Philadelphia, when Hamels yielded three runs and Strasburg two in what finished as a 5-3 Nationals win and a no-decision for both starters.

This time, Hamels gave up four hits and struck out six in his second consecutive start without an earned run. He has given up one earned run or fewer in nine of his last 13 starts.

“Hard to not think it’s a waste of a solid start,” Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said. “That’s what he’s been doing. His command’s excellent.”

The Phillies’ lineup couldn’t get to Strasburg. The Washington right-hander pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, striking out 10. He walked one and didn’t permit a runner past second base.

The Phillies were shut out for the second straight day and haven’t scored in 21 innings.

Despite throwing just 86 pitches, Reid Brignac pinch-hit for Hamels in the eighth in hopes of sparking the offense.

“With only five outs to go, we need to try to score with the opportunities running short,” Sandberg said.

Strasburg mixed in his off-speed pitches well throughout the afternoon and threw 68 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

“You’ve really just got to do your best to pound the strike zone with the fastball, get that going early, get the feel for that,” Strasburg said, “and hopefully all your other pitches fall in place.”

Denard Span had two hits, two steals, an RBI and scored a run for Washington.

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