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Nats not ready to name Game 4 starter, but it's down to two options

Nats not ready to name Game 4 starter, but it's down to two options

With his team up 2-1 looking for a clinching victory in the NL Division Series, Nationals manager Dusty Baker wants to sleep on his decision of whom to start in Game 4 in Los Angeles. Baker told reporters following the Nats' Game 3 win that it's between right-handers Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez, but he wouldn't commit to either.

Either way, both could end up pitching in the game. Ross is still working his way back to full strength from right shoulder inflammation and Lopez is the Nationals' longman. If Ross starts, Lopez will waiting in the wings, ready to take over if he encounters trouble. If Lopez starts, Ross would then become the long reliever.

Both pitchers faced the Dodgers once this season. Lopez saw them on July 19 in his MLB debut and gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Ross held them to two runs through 6 1/3 innings on June 22, two starts before he suffered his shoulder injury.

With a 5.91 ERA through 44 total MLB innings, Lopez offers less of a sure thing than Ross, who boasts a 3.52 ERA in 181 2/3 career innings. 

The question could come down to who they trust more to come in if the game gets out of hand. Do you roll with Ross, who is probably the safer bet, but then go with Lopez to clean up a mess if it happens? Or, do you go with Lopez and have Ross ready to take over if things get out of hand?

It's a tough call. On the face of it, Ross makes sense to start. But if he loses control, their best option to spell him will be a guy with little experience to pull from.

[RELATED: Nationals beat Dodgers to take 2-1 lead in NLDS]


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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

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Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

Matt Grace, Howie Kendrick lead Nationals past San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Matt Grace pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in place of injured Max Scherzer and Howie Kendrick hit a leadoff homer and drove in two runs to help the Washington Nationals beat the San Diego Padres 7-1 on Friday night.

Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck. Grace and five relievers held San Diego to four hits.

Grace, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and pitched at UCLA, made his first big league start and his first start since 2012 when he was with Single-A Potomac. It was his 61st big league appearance.

The left-hander allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one. He retired Cory Spangenberg on a grounder to open the fifth and manager Dusty Baker came out to get him after 52 pitches.

Shawn Kelley came on and with one out allowed Dusty Coleman's solo homer into the second deck in left field, his fourth.

Joe Blanton (2-2) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.

Kendrick homered to left on the third pitch from Luis Perdomo, his sixth leadoff shot this season and seventh homer overall. Kendrick also hit an RBI single with no outs in the seventh to chase Perdomo and give the Nationals a 5-1 lead. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza hit a sacrifice fly one batter earlier.

Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Washington's Michael A. Taylor robbed Yangervis Solarte of a home run with a perfectly timed leap to catch the ball above the 396 sign in center field leading off the second, and right fielder Andrew Stevenson made a nice running catch of Wil Myers' fly ball with a runner on third to end the fourth.

Perdomo (6-8) allowed five runs, three earned, and six hits while striking out five and walking three.