Axelrod goes for White Sox in D.C. finale

Dylan Axelrod tries to state his case to remain in Chicago's starting rotation on Thursday when the White Sox conclude a three- game set with the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

Axelrod was thrust into the White Sox' rotation when it was learned that John Danks would start the season on the disabled list. He looked as if he belonged on Saturday against Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners, as he scattered three hits and an unearned run in 5 2/3 innings, but did not get a decision.

"You couldn't tell what he's thinking by what's going on out there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Axelrod. "It doesn't matter the situation. He's under control. He's very confident. Very composed for a young pitcher, but also he knows what he's doing. He's confident."

Washington will counter with righty Dan Haren, who had a rough return to the National League in his Nationals debut. Haren absorbed the loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, surrendering six runs and nine hits - 4 home runs - in just four innings of work.

"No excuses. I felt good," Haren said. "The first inning I felt great. Maybe I wasn't as sharp as I could be. The layoff definitely didn't hurt. When a game like this happens, I want to get back out there again."

Haren has faced the White Sox six times and is 2-1 with a 3.53 ERA.

On Wednesday, Bryce Harper sent a fourth-inning Gavin Floyd offering into the second deck and Danny Espinosa drove in two runs, as Washington remained perfect at home this season with a 5-2 win.

Jordan Zimmermann (2-0) was dialed in all night for Washington, allowing just two runs on seven hits while striking out four in seven innings of work. Zimmermann was also productive at the plate, laying down two sacrifice bunts.

Espinosa went 2-for-4, while Ian Desmond had three hits -- two doubles and a triple -- and two runs scored for the Nats, who have won six of eight to open the year, including wins in all five home games.

Floyd got off to a fast start but lasted just 5 1/3 innings while yielding five runs on nine hits. He also had seven strikeouts.

"It seemed like the first two innings he was unhittable," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "He's a good pitcher. We beat a good pitcher."

Alex Rios and Conor Gillaspie each had two hits to pace Chicago, which has lost four of six.

The Nationals last faced the White Sox during the 2011 season, winning two of three contests at U.S. Cellular Field.