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Series preview: Nationals at Cardinals

The Cardinals (8-8) will try to built on the momentum they built during their recently concluded west coast road trip tonight when they take on Washington (8-7) at Busch Stadium.

The Nationals are without third baseman Ryan Zimmerman who was placed on the disabled list 10 days ago after straining an abdominal muscle. Zimmerman, who hit third in the Washington batting order before the injury, was batting .357 with one homer and four RBIs. Of course, they're still without pitcher Stephen Strassburg who is recovering from a torn elbow ligament suffered last year.

They will have former Cardinals pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel on the active roster, however. At least for the time being. Ankiel, a fan favorite in St. Louis because of his remarkable comeback story, won the Nats' starting job in centerfield in Spring training, bumping jerky flychaser Nyjer Morgan off the roster. Unfortunately, he hasn't done much since then, hitting .211 with 13 strikeouts in 57 at bats.

Jayson Werth, who shocked the baseball world when he signed a $167-million free agent contract over the off-season, hasn't exactly lived up to his mega deal. He's hitting .200 with two solo homers -- which account for his two RBI.

The Cardinals have a pair of injuries they're dealing with: Skip Schumaker has a sore elbow and Allen Craig has a sore groin. They were supposed to be examined yesterday but there has been no announcement yet about if either of them will be disabled or if the have been cleared to play.

The Birds split their season series with the Nationals last year, winning three games apiece. The Cardinals won the two games that were played at Busch Stadium and DC took three of the four games at its ballpark.

Pitching match-ups:

John Lannon (1-1, 3.37) will face Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63) in the opener. Lannon 1-2 with a 2.36 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals. Westbrook is 1-1 with a 3.14 career record against the Nationals. He's been terrible in three starts so far this season, giving up 23 hits and 11 walks in 15 1/3 innings. He's allowing an average of 2.22 baserunners per inning, a recipe for disaster.

In the second game of the set, Jordan Zimmerman (1-2, 2.45) will take on St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia (2-0, 1.35.) Zimmerman is 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. Garcia, who has struck out 20 so far this season while walking only five. He's won his only career start against the Nationals, a 5 1/3 inning start in which he didn't allow any runs.

Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 5.56) will start the Finale against Kyle Lohse (2-1, 2.82). Gorzelanny is 2-4 with a 4.98 ERA against the Cardinals during his time with the Cubs and Pirates in the National League Central. Lohse is 3-2 with a 5.72 ERA in his career against the Nats.

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