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PHI@SD: Richard tosses 7 1/3 solid frames

Neither team is where it wants to be in the standings, so when the Nationals and Padres share the field this weekend, both will be trying to get things going in the right direction.

The Nationals' losing streak reached a season-high five games in their finale at Milwaukee on Wednesday, so they come off a tough 1-7 road trip to begin a homestand with a three-game set against San Diego.

The Nationals' John Lannan will take on Clayton Richard in a battle of left-handers in Friday's opener, starting the Padres' lone visit of the season to Nationals Park.

For Washington manager Jim Riggleman, the Nationals' 21-28 record isn't necessarily indicative of how they have played, although he knows that's the standard by which they are judged.

"You have to accept your record as that's what it is. That's where you are," Riggleman said Wednesday. "That must be what you are. But other than the record, and I'm repeating myself so many times, we've played really good baseball. [We've] run the bases outstanding, played really good baseball. We have not got [on track] offensively yet.

"A couple of times lately we've [broken out] offensively, [but] we had a bad night in the bullpen. Well, that's baseball. I'm proud of the way they are getting after it. The effort has been outstanding. I'm pleased with the way our club has gone about our business, but obviously, we want better results."

The Padres, who snapped a season-high five-game losing streak Wednesday with a 3-1 win against the Cardinals, know the feeling. Coming off a season that took their postseason hopes down to the last day, the Padres have struggled to get on a winning track in 2011.

San Diego went 2-6 during its eight-game homestand and was held to 11 runs.

"You're not swinging good, you feel like you're facing Cy Young and there's 15 guys out there every time," said Brad Hawpe, who has been one of the Padres' offensive stalwarts recently.

"We've got to keep grinding through it, we really do," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We've got to keep grinding and hope some of those balls would fall."

Nationals: Good to be home again
Very few teams have hit the road nearly as often as the Nationals through the first 49 games, with Washington wearing road grays for 29 games and home whites for just 20 contests thus far. They're 11-9 at home and 10-19 on the road, and only the Twins and Giants have spent more time on the road than the Nationals.

Lannan won't mind pitching at home, either. Entering the game with a six-start winless streak, Lannan has been strong at home with a 2.63 ERA in four starts. He has struggled in six road games with a 6.98 ERA.

The left-hander is 1-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts against the Padres.

• The Nationals went without an error Wednesday, leaving them with just six over their past 25 games. That's the fewest errors in the Majors during that span.

Padres: Richard looking to pound zone
Richard threw 100 pitches in just five innings of work against the Mariners his last time out, and it was no secret to Richard why he ran into trouble early and was unable to stay in the game late.

"I was not in the zone early, and that's something that will really cost you later in the game, when you're not able to pound the strike zone early in the game," Richard said.

Richard has struggled to get on track in May. After giving up 15 earned runs in his first seven starts this season, Richard has now surrendered 13 runs in his last three starts.

He is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three previous starts vs. Washington.

Worth noting
• The Nationals remain the only Major League team to have used just five starters thus far this season.

• The Nationals and Brewers split the season series 3-3, with both clubs earning sweeps at home.

• The Padres are 13-16 in games decided by two runs or fewer, including a 6-8 record in one-run affairs.

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