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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

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Wang to start Sunday for Nats

Faced with a decision to pitch a starter on short rest or use a spot start from his bullpen on Sunday against the Brewers, Nats manager Davey Johnson has decided to send Chien-Ming Wang to the mound for his first start since June 19. The situation arose after a postponed game on Tuesday against the Dodgers forced a doubleheader the following day.

After using both Jordan Zimmermann and John Lannan on Wednesday against L.A., Johnson looked towards Sunday with a decision between Craig Stammen and Wang. The Nationals manager narrowed it down between the two based on matchups as the Brewers offer a lineup rife with right-handed bats. Pitching Wang also allows Johnson to keep Stammen in his current role in the bullpen, a middle-inning specialist with the ability to pitch in long relief.

The other guy I was going to do is Stammen, but I really like the role that he is in, he is invaluable in the role. If I started him I would lose him two or three days before and two or three days after, I dont want to do that at this point.

Wang appeared in Wednesdays second game, his first outing since June 30. He pitched 2 13 innings in relief and allowed zero earned runs with just a pair of hits offered to the Dodgers. Johnson liked what he saw and hopes to get a productive start out of the pitcher he originally pegged as his fifth starter back in March.

I like the way Chien-Ming Wang threw last night, he had good sink, Johnson said.

I like who he is and who he is all about and I like his competitiveness. He has been in big games and all these are big games. I think he will do us a good job on Sunday.

Wang pitching in a meaningful September game is something that sounded more realistic back when he was originally named the fifth starter. But now, after a season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, few could have guessed just a week ago he would get the opportunity. Johnson, however, doesnt forget how good he looked early on.

Hes had just a bunch of injuries that really set him back. I liked where he was in the spring, he was going to be my fifth starter over Ross Detwiler, he said.

With the terrible leg injury and maybe that led to some mechanical problems, but I like our chances with him on the mound.

Wang began the season on the disabled list with a hamstring and also hurt his hip later on in the year. Before Wednesday's game he hadn't even pitched in a minor league game since September 1.

Wang is healthy now and looked good on Wednesday, but despite getting the start Davey doesnt expect anything to change in the rotation after Sunday. If anyones job would be in jeopardy after a strong outing by Wang it would be Lannan who allowed six runs in just 3 23 innings, his worse start of the season, but Johnson confirmed he is safe for now.

One start is not going to put him in my rotation, although Lannan was all messed up. He just couldnt find the rhythm, the groove, when his other three starts up here have been great. I told Johnny dont worry about it, nothing is happening.

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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

Marcell Ozuna homered and Austin Gomber tossed six shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

St. Louis has won a season-high eight straight. The Cardinals, who are 18-9 since the All-Star break, captured their sixth successive series after taking the first three of the four-game set.

Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which has lost four in a row and seven of nine to fall below .500 and nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The current skid began with a loss to the Cubs on a two-out, walk-off grand slam.

Ozuna homered in the second inning, his 14th of the season and his first since July 30.

Gomber (3-0), in his fourth start of the year, gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four.

Bud Norris pitched the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 27 opportunities.

Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina added run-scoring hits for St. Louis, which improved to 19-9 since Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by interim manager Mike Shildt.

St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk in the fifth. It's the longest current streak in the majors. Carpenter left the game in the seventh after he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Matt Grace, but X-rays were negative.

Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) left in the fifth inning after colliding with Bader on a play at the plate following a wild pitch. Hellickson gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Bader, who had three hits, also made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Bryce Harper in the fourth.

The Cardinals, who have an NL-best 12-2 mark in August, remain one game behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot. They are four games behind Chicago in the NL Central.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg threw a simulated game on Wednesday. He threw around 70 pitches and could be ready to return early next week, manager Dave Martinez said.

Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday. Cecil, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his right foot, pitched four scoreless innings in four appearances with Triple-A Memphis. LHP Tyler Webb was optioned to Memphis.

UP NEXT

RHP Tanner Roark (7-12, 4.12) will face RHP Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday. Roark has won his last four decision, Weaver is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career games against NL East foes.

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

Washington Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was removed from Wednesday night's game in St. Louis in the fifth inning after colliding with Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader at the plate.

Hellickson was covering home after a wild pitch. He stumbled over Bader as Bader slid home safely.

Hellickson was charged with three runs, two earned, on three hits in his 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.