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CHC@WSH: Zimmermann fans nine over seven solid frames

For a pair of National League playoff contenders, Tuesday's rainout causes headaches for both managers trying to set up their rotations down the stretch.

Aaron Harang was scheduled to start Tuesday for the Dodgers, but he will pitch Wednesday's opener before Josh Beckett takes the mound for Game 2. Los Angeles is 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second NL Wild Card spot entering Tuesday.

Harang is looking for his first victory since Aug. 18 after giving up 11 runs in 21 innings in four starts since then. Beckett has gone 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts since joining the team.

That rainout puts the Dodgers' weekend rotation in flux with Harang's start pushed a day back and Clayton Kershaw's future still uncertain with an impingement of his right hip. Rookie Stephen Fife will most likely get the call on Saturday as manager Don Mattingly said he will go with a five-man rotation instead of just four.

"If there's chances to skip somebody, then we'll talk about it," Mattingly said. "We're not going to throw anybody on short rest. I don't think we have those type of guys that are going to be able to pitch on short rest."

Like the Dodgers, Washington's rotation is undergoing changes lately with Stephen Strasburg being shut down the for the season.

Jordan Zimmermann will pitch the opener and John Lannan will pitch the second game. Zimmermann lasted just five innings in his last outing when he gave up six hits, three walks and two earned runs. Lannan, who is replacing Strasburg, looked sharp in his first fill-in game when he tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball against the Mets.

As for who will start Sunday, the Nationals are now in need of an extra starter because of the rainout.

"I don't want any of my good young pitchers to be brought back on short notice at this point," said manager Davey Johnson said, whose team has a 5 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. "I don't think Zim has done it. He's had a little bit of that inflammation [in his shoulder]. ... I think he could do it and have no problem, but it's not something I would do to anyone in the rotation at this point. I'm sure Stras would volunteer."

Nationals: Espinosa has bone bruise inside shoulder
Second baseman Danny Espinosa is day to day after an MRI on Monday revealed a bone bruise inside the shoulder. He could play Wednesday against the Dodgers.

Espinosa expected the injury to be worse and thought he might have had a torn labrum or rotator cuff.

"This is the best news we could have gotten," Espinosa said. "If it was a labrum tear or a rotator cuff tear, I would have surgery during the offseason. I didn't know there was going to be a bruise in there. It's definitely the best news I could have gotten."

Dodgers: Still hope for Kershaw return
The news following Kershaw's meeting with the hip specialist Dr. Bryan Kelly Tuesday was a relief with questions regarding whether he would pitch again this season, let alone the beginning of next.

His diagnosis was an impingement of the right hip, which means the joint is pinched during rotation of the hip while pitching. He was scheduled to resume his throwing program Tuesday and he can continue to pitch without risk of further damaging his hip, although the Dodgers will be cautious if pain persists.

For the season, Kershaw is 12-9 with a 2.70 ERA and an NL-leading 206 strikeouts over 206 2/3 innings.

"He's really competitive, but also, he knows he can't pitch," said Mattingly, who wouldn't commit to a spot in the rotation. "In certain points, he knows he can't pitch. When he can't go out and throw, he knows he can't compete. So it brings you to realism. When you can't throw, you can't go out and compete. So at that point, you know you've got to take care of it."

Worth noting
• Lannan is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three Major League starts this year.

• Tuesday's rainout will do the Dodgers' bullpen well with the team using a franchise-record 10 pitchers on Sunday.

• Hanley Ramirez has hit .342 (144-for-421) with 27 homers in his career against the Nationals/Expos. He ranks sixth in batting average and fourth in homers for active players against them.

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