Dodgers-Nationals preview

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WASHINGTON -- It will be a contrast in starting pitchers when the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

Veteran lefty Scott Kazmir (7-3, 4.52) is scheduled to make the start for the Dodgers while hard-throwing Reynaldo Lopez, who appeared in the Futures Game in San Diego, is slated to make his big league debut for the Nationals.

Lopez, 22, will take the spot in the rotation of Joe Ross, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 with right shoulder inflammation. The Nationals bypassed Lucas Giolito, who made his big league debut June 28 against the New York Mets, in order to give Lopez a shot.

"Reynaldo's physical, mental and emotional development has been very impressive this year and we are excited about the strides he's made in all areas," according to Mark Scialabba, the director of player development for the Nationals.

Lopez began the season at Double-A Harrisburg before he was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he has made two starts. He is 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 16 minor league starts this year.

"The improved feel and action on both his changeup and curveball have added more swings and misses to an already impressive arsenal," Scialabba said.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said Sunday that lefty reliever Sammy Solis will go on the disabled list with right knee soreness to clear a roster spot for Lopez.

He added that the Nationals decided to go with Lopez over Giolito, who is slated to pitch Tuesday for Syracuse, so Giolito can work on his breaking ball and command in the minors.

He will face a Dodgers team that is 52-42 and is 5 1/2 games back of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

Washington (56-37) was six games ahead of the New York Mets and Miami Marlins in the National League East going into play Monday. The Nationals were off Monday while the Mets and Marlins had games against the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively.

The last time the two faced off in late June, the Dodgers swept the Nationals in a three game series in Los Angeles. Kazmir, who has been in the majors since 2004, spent a great deal of time in the American League, thus he has limited exposure to the Nationals.

Kazmir holds a 1-0 record and an ERA of 4.14 over three career starts against Washington in his career.

Washington left fielder Jayson Werth is hitting .714 with one home run in seven at-bats against Kazmir.

Bryce Harper also has a home run against the lefty in three at-bats, and Danny Espinosa has a homer in five at-bats against Kazmir.

The Nationals hope that infielder Daniel Murphy returns to the lineup Tuesday. He has not started the last three games due to a hamstring injury. He did hit a pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth Sunday to tie the game at 1-1 while the Nationals lost 2-1 in 18 innings to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington also hopes Anthony Rendon, who had the flu and missed the game Sunday, can start at third base against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers hope to get back outfielder Joc Pederson, who has been on the disabled list with a right shoulder separation.

And of course star lefty Clayton Kershaw is still on the disabled list for the Dodgers.

"Clayton doesn't pitch every day," manager Dave Roberts told after the Dodgers lost Sunday to Arizona. "Even without Clayton, we're good enough to win baseball games. We're 11-6 since he's been gone. With or without Clayton, we have to continue to get better."