Nats-Braves LIVE game thread - 7:35 p.m.

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Nats-Braves LIVE game thread - 7:35 p.m.

GO TO THE LIVE GAME THREAD ON NATSINSIDER.COM

In his seemingly never-ending quest to find a competent left fielder -- not to mention a competent leadoff man -- Davey Johnson's roulette wheel has stopped on Steve Lombardozzi. The rookie infielder has made a strong case for himself, both at the plate (he's hitting .317 with a .385 on-base percentage) and in the field (he's made a couple of nice plays while learning the outfield on the fly).

So tonight, in the opener of perhaps their biggest series of the season to date, the Nationals will have Lombardozzi in left field and leading off for the third time in four games. It worked twice in Philadelphia; might as well give it a shot in Atlanta.

It'll take a strong offensive performance from the Nats' lineup, top to bottom, to beat Tim Hudson (owner of a 13-3 record and 2.09 ERA in his career against them). And it'll take a strong start from Ross Detwiler (who has allowed 10 earned runs over his last 10 innings).

Unfortunately, I'm not in Atlanta for this weekend showdown, but I will be in Miami starting Monday for the Nationals' first series at Marlins Park. Until then, enjoy the big game and the conversation...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at ATLANTA BRAVES
Where: Turner Field
Gametime: 7:35 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 184
Weather: Partly cloudy, 86 degrees, Wind 1 mph in from RF

NATIONALS (26-18)
LF Steve Lombardozzi
RF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
LHP Ross Detwiler

BRAVES (26-20)
CF Michael Bourn
3B Martin Prado
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
LF Matt Diaz
RF Jason Heyward
C David Ross
SS Jack Wilson
RHP Tim Hudson

UMPIRES
TBA

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Maryland's Justin Jackson reportedly coming back to College Park

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Maryland's Justin Jackson reportedly coming back to College Park

It's the time of year when NBA prospects have major, life-changing decisions to make.

For some, entering the NBA draft is an easy one. They don't need anymore outside opinions.

But for others, like Maryland's Justin Jackson, testing the waters is the most important part. 

Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports is reporting that Jackson is “expected” to return to Maryland for his sophomore season.

Jackson worked out for the Raptors Tuesday,  and told the media he still wanted to sit down with his family before making a final decision.

“Truthfully, I’m hearing a whole bunch of different things, it’s kind of mixed right now,” he said at the workout. “I really got to sit down, discuss with my family, my circle and really try to figure things out.”

When you have a 7-3 wingspan on a 6-7 frame, you're always intriguing to NBA scouts, especially when you can stretch the floor from 3-point range as well.

Despite some saying Jackson could sneak into the first round, not hiring an agent gives him the opportunity to come back to College Park.

An option he apparently is taking.

That would be great news for the Terps too, after losing Melo Trimble for good already to the NBA.

Jackson's 10.5 points per game and 6 boards as a freshman will make him the team's top returner in both categories.

Numbers that will certainly grow with his role next season.

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Orioles look to rebound after losing 8 of last 11

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USA Today Sports

Orioles look to rebound after losing 8 of last 11

BALTIMORE  -- Dylan Bundy will try to rebound on Tuesday after his first non-quality start of the season. It will not be an easy task for the Baltimore Orioles right-hander.

Bundy (5-2, 2.97 ERA) will face Minnesota Twins ace Ervin Santana (6-2, 2.07) in the middle game of a three-game series at Camden Yards. Bundy has lasted at least six innings of each of his nine starts, but he did not give up more than three runs until his last outing.

The Detroit Tigers touched him up for six runs in six innings on Thursday in a 6-5 victory over the Orioles. Still, he made it through the sixth, which gave a tired Baltimore bullpen a break.

RELATED: UPDATED MLB POWER RANKINGS

Bundy has pitched just once against Minnesota, throwing a scoreless inning last year. The Orioles will need his help after the Twins scored 12 consecutive runs and rallied from an early five-run deficit to post a 14-7 victory in the series opener Monday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter wants his team to shake off the loss.

"If you're tough mentally. I don't think guys dwell on it," Showalter said. "But as long as they feel like there's a silver lining there, something that's coming that's going to get better, (that's good)."

Santana also is trying to rebound from a defeat. He gave up five runs on six hits in seven innings on Thursday, taking the loss against the Colorado Rockies.

Still, that was the fifth time in nine starts that Santana went at least seven innings. The 34-year old right-hander certainly has earned the respect of manager Paul Molitor.

"He's a poised pitcher who's not intimidated," Molitor said. "Since he's been here, he's pitched good baseball for Minnesota. In a very bleak season (last year), he was one of our lone bright spots. He's a guy who attacks with his fastball."

Santana, who is 4-5 with a 4.87 career ERA against the Orioles, ranks first in the majors in lowest opponents' batting average this year (.144).

The Orioles still are battling a number of injury issues. Manager Buck Showalter said before the game Monday that Ryan Flaherty, on the disabled list due to a strained shoulder, was getting a plasma-rich platelet injection before going out to do rehab work in Florida.

Manny Machado played on Monday after X-rays on his left hand were fine, and he went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double. He was hit in the hand by a pitch on Sunday, and Showalter said the hand still was not perfect a day later.

The Orioles also recalled right-hander Tyler Wilson for some bullpen help on Monday after optioning right-hander Miguel Castro back to Double-A Bowie following the Sunday game. Wilson allowed six runs (four earned) on five hits in 1 1/3 innings Monday and took the loss.

Baltimore also reinstated right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (right hamstring strain) from the disabled list Monday and immediately optioned him back to Triple-A Norfolk.

The Twins, meanwhile, recalled right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4) to start the series opener, and he allowed six runs in five innings but still got the win. He snapped a nine-start winless streak.

Thanks to a four-run fifth inning and six-run sixth, Minnesota improved its road record to 12-5.