Ross Ohlendorf (8-8, 4.51 ERA) will be on the hill for Pittsburgh. He hadn't worked six innings in any of his first three July starts, but did exactly that Saturday at Arizona, allowing three runs - two earned. The Pirates' offense was silent, however, and Ohlendorf got charged with a 7-0 loss.
Ohlendorf gave up five runs and six hits over five innings in a 6-5 win at Washington on May 18.
John Lannan (7-7, 3.25) will counter for the Nationals looking to build on two brilliant outings. He tossed a complete-game shutout in a win over the New York Mets on July 21, then gave up one run over eight innings Sunday against San Diego but did not earn a decision.
Lannan, who has a 5.51 ERA on the road, yielded one run in seven innings against Pittsburgh at home on May 20.
Had the Nationals, entering Thursday with just two road series wins this year against 12 losses (and seven sweeps), been able to take three of four from the Brewers at Miller Park, they might have a little more evidence to show they're headed in the right direction under interim manager Jim Riggleman.
Riggleman had plenty of positive things to say about the split after a 7-3 loss to the Brewers on Thursday, taking some encouragement out of the Nationals' ability to play with the defending NL wild-card winner for four days. But the chance to sweep Milwaukee—and deal a crippling blow to the Brewers' playoff hopes—came and went.
This season, the Nationals still haven't swept a road series, and the Brewers series was just the fourth time in 16 matchups they've even been able to post a split.
Brewers 7, Nationals 3: After falling behind 2-0, Washington took a one-run lead in the fourth inning on Ryan Zimmerman's three-run homer. But the Brewers tied the game in the bottom of the fourth and took the lead for good when Mike Cameron slid between Wil Nieves' legs on a seventh-inning play at the plate, despite Zimmerman's throw beating Cameron there by several steps. J.D. Martin(notes) pitched six-plus innings in the loss.
NOTES, QUOTES • LHP Sean Burnett will return to Pittsburgh, where the Nationals begin a four-game series with the Pirates on Friday, for the first time since he left there in a trade last month. Since then, the Pirates have made a handful of other deals, shipping out INFs Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez this week, and Burnett said he was happy to be out of Pittsburgh. "It was a circus," Burnett said. "After what's going on, I'm just glad to be out of there."
• OF Nyjer Morgan continued his torrid month of July for the Nationals, becoming the third player in team history to record 40 hits in a month with a 3-for-4 performance Thursday. Morgan also stole a base and scored a run. "Both offensively and defensively, he's changed our ballclub," interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
• RHP Garrett Mock struggled in his third major league start of the season Wednesday. He gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings, helping the Brewers come back from a 4-0 deficit by serving up a triple to Ryan Braun and a homer to Mike Cameron. "I know he's a confident guy, but he just hasn't been able to finish an inning off or finish a hitter off at certain times," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Tonight, he left with a (potential) win and we couldn't hold it for him."
By The Numbers: 33 hours, 42 minutes—Total time the Nationals have spent in rain delays this season, spanning 17 games, through July 26.
Quote To Note: "The fans don't deserve for us to come out and play sloppy like that. We're playing one of the worst teams in baseball, and they kicked our butt tonight."—C Josh Bard, after the Nationals lost to the Padres 6-2 on July 25, and committed four errors.
• OF Josh Willingham was scratched from Thursday's lineup less than an hour before the first pitch. The Nationals said Willingham had stiffness in his neck. The outfielder hit two grand slams Monday and has 15 homers since May 5.
• RHP Jordan Zimmermann should be ready to come off the 15-day disabled list when he is eligible to return next week, but the Nationals might keep him on the DL a little longer, interim manager Jim Riggleman said. Zimmermann has an innings limit this year, and the Nationals are toying with the idea of having him throw a few simulated games and do extra workouts so he can pitch into September. "I think we all kind of feel like it'd be nice for him to go from April to October pitching, rather than sitting that last two or three weeks," Riggleman said.
• 3B Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning Thursday, accounting for all of the Nationals' runs and putting him one homer shy of his third 20-homer season in four years. Zimmerman is within five of his career high of 24. He's hit four homers in his last seven games.
OF Josh Willingham (neck stiffness) was scratched from the lineup July 30.
RHP Jordan Zimmermann (sore right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 19. He might not return as soon as he is eligible, as the team wants to limit his innings this season.
C Jesus Flores (bruised right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg on May 25, but he suffered a setback. On June 1, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the shoulder, and he will be out at least three months.
OF Roger Bernadina (broken right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list April 19, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 29. He had surgery April 18. He got his walking boot off in late June.
RHP Terrell Young (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 13.
LHP Scott Olsen (torn left labrum in left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 11. He had season-ending surgery July 23.
1B Dmitri Young (strained back and hip) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 1. He began a minor league rehab assignment June 27, but he tore his left quadriceps July 18, ending his season.