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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, June 20 (All times Eastern)

Atlanta Braves (37-35) at Washington Nationals (37-34), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Mike Minor (2-4, 4.42) Washington - Stephen Strasburg (6-5, 3.06)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals didn't start a crucial series with the Atlanta Braves the way they had anticipated and will get another shot at the NL East rivals Friday night in DC.

The Nationals opened a four-game set with Thursday's 3-0 loss and couldn't get anything going for starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann lasted seven innings and allowed two runs with six strikeouts and one walk, but the solid showing dropped the Washington ace to 5-4 on the season.

"I made some good pitches," said Zimmermann. "A couple bloopers and a three- hopper up the middle to load the bases. I was happy to get out of it with two runs and I had some good innings after that."

Denard Span and Jayson Werth doubled, while Danny Espinosa had the other hit for the punchless Nationals, who have lost five of their last seven games following an 8-1 stretch. The Nats now lead the NL East by just a half-game ahead of Atlanta and 1 1/2 games in front of Miami.

Washington has still won seven of the last nine games at Nationals Park, where it is 21-16 this season.

Stephen Strasburg looks to get back on track when he toes the rubber Friday for the Nats. Strasburg had a personal three-start losing streak come to an end in Saturday's 4-1 loss at St. Louis, as he was reached for three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Strasburg is 6-5 with a 3.06 earned run average and will put his solid home record on the line. In eight starts at Nationals Park, the right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.10 ERA. He has made 13 career starts against Atlanta, going 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA.

In an April 5 loss to the Braves, Strasburg allowed six runs -- three earned -- in 4 1/3 innings of a 6-2 setback.

It was a bittersweet moment for Atlanta last night, as starter Gavin Floyd threw six scoreless innings and struck out six with one walk before leaving the game with a right elbow fracture. The injury will sideline Floyd for some time and could even end his season.

"It wasn't painful, it was just kind of surprising," Floyd told the club's website. "I know when something pops, something is releasing. We had X-rays and obviously, it was different."

Floyd, who has had Tommy John surgery in the past, will head back to Atlanta for further evaluation.

Freddie Freeman had three of Atlanta's 11 hits, including two doubles, and scored twice. Freeman has an extra-base hit in five straight games, while Chris Johnson drove in three runs and Evan Gattis went 2-for-5 to extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games for Atlanta, which opened an 11-game trip on a high note after suffering a three-game sweep against Philadelphia.

Jason Heyward recorded two hits and has reached base safely via hit or walk in 35 of his last 38 games. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel posted his 21st save with two K's in the ninth.

The Braves will also visit Houston and the Phillies on this trip and had lost six of eight games before Thursday's triumph.

Mike Minor gets the call for the Braves Friday and is 0-2 in his last five starts. He has posted back-to-back no-decisions -- both Atlanta wins -- and lasted five innings in Sunday's 7-3 decision over the LA Angels. He gave up three runs and 11 hits with six K's and one walk.

Minor has been reached for 11 runs and 22 hits in his last two outings and is 2-4 with a 4.42 ERA overall. The left-hander has made nine career starts against the Nationals and is 3-2 with a 4.96 ERA.

Washington is only 1-6 against Atlanta this season, but is 11-5-2 in series play against the Braves in DC since April 29, 2008.

06/20 11:11:43 ET

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