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'Pressing' Espinosa takes a seat on Nats bench

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'Pressing' Espinosa takes a seat on Nats bench

PHILADELPHIA -- Though he has suggested he won't be resting any of his regulars until the Nationals clinch the NL East title, manager Davey Johnson made the surprising decision today to sit Danny Espinosa and start Steve Lombardozzi at second base against the Phillies.

Espinosa has been dealing with a bone bruise in his left shoulder and received a cortisone shot last week to relieve the pain, but Johnson said the benching had nothing to do with that and was instead performance related.

"I think he's been pressing a little bit lately," Johnson said. "He's been swinging awfully hard. I just wanted to let him sit back and relax a little bit."

Espinosa did go 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts during Tuesday night's series opener at Citizens Bank Park, but he collected three hits (including a double) on Monday against the Brewers.

In eight games since receiving the cortisone shot, he's hitting .348 (8-for-23) with three doubles, four walks and six strikeouts.

"The last couple games, it looks like he's been over-swinging," Johnson said. "I know he's an intense competitor. I'm sure he thinks I'm an idiot. And maybe I am."

Johnson also cited Espinosa's career numbers against Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (3-for-16 with a double, three walks and four strikeouts). Lombardozzi is 3-for-11 against the right-hander.

Espinosa expressed surprise upon arriving in the clubhouse today and not finding him name on the lineup card. He insisted his shoulder wasn't bothering him at all.

"I feel 100 percent," he said. "That's Johnson's decision. So go ask his reasoning. I'd like to know, too."

Lombardozzi had been getting consistent playing time through much of the season's first half, filling in for injured regulars Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Michael Morse and Jayson Werth. But with all of those players now back healthy, the rookie has returned to the bench. He's received only 31 plate appearances over the Nationals' last 28 games, hitting .200 during that span.

"One of the guys I've really slighted the most is Lombo," Johnson said. "He was an everyday player, and probably playing as good as anybody. If memory serves me correct, he was hitting almost .300 and I just shut him down and started playing the other guys when they got healthy. ... His playing time was diminished, and he can play."

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Nationals fall to Padres as four starters sit on the bench

Nationals fall to Padres as four starters sit on the bench

WASHINGTON -- Ryan Schimpf hit a two-run homer and the San Diego Padres broke out the bats, beating the Washington Nationals 5-3 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

The Padres had only one run and six hits with 31 strikeouts in back-to-back losses in games started by Washington's Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to begin the series. San Diego bounced back by matching its season high with 14 hits, with 12 coming off starter Joe Ross (2-1).

NL home run leader Bryce Harper was among four starters out of the lineup for Washington. The game was delayed 1 hour, 20 minutes by rain.

RELATED: HARPER AMONG 4 NATS' STARTERS OUT VS. PADRES SUNDAY

Four relievers, including Kirby Yates (1-0), pitched 4 2-3 hitless innings following starter Jhoulys Chacin's latest bumpy road appearance. Brandon Maurer worked the ninth for his sixth save.

Chase d'Arnaud had a two-run single and double for the Padres. Franchy Cordero singled in the third for his first major league hit and later doubled.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals. All three entered as pinch hitters, but were retired. Washington opens a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Adam Lind drove in two runs. His RBI double in the fifth off Chacin pulled Washington closer at 5-3.

Chacin surrendered three runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He also had two singles and an RBI.

Ross, who allowed five in four innings plus three batters in the fifth, certainly had two tough acts to follow. Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 in Saturday's 3-0 win after Scherzer fanned 13 in Friday's 5-1 series-opening victory.

San Diego doubled the amount it scored in consecutive losses after just four batters. Following a two-out walk to Wil Myers, Schimpf hit his 13th homer of the season and second in the series.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: RHP Carter Capps (Tommy John surgery) remains on track to face hitters this week, manager Andy Green said.

Nationals: Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

UP NEXT

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.50 ERA) faces the Cubs at home on Monday.

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (4-2, 4.32) opens a three-game road series against Giants LHP Matt Moore (2-5, 5.28)

More Nationals: NATIONALS PLAYERS VISIT LOCAL LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAMS

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Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

Harper Among 4 Nats' Starters Out Vs. Padres Sunday

National League home run leader Bryce Harper is among four starters out of the lineup for the Washington Nationals in their series finale against the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Daniel Murphy, Jayson Werth and Matt Wieters also did not start for the Nationals, who open a nine-game, 10-day road trip Monday afternoon in San Francisco.

Murphy missed the previous two games due to illness, Chris Speier said Saturday. Speier, serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in California, did not meet with the media before Sunday's game.

RELATED: Nationals' Joe Ross to Start Against Team That Drafted Him

Harper is batting .337 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Washington won the first two matchups in the three-game series.

Joe Ross (2-0, 5.32) faces fellow right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) on Sunday.