Dodgers-Nationals Preview

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WASHINGTON -- The Los Angeles Dodgers-Washington Nationals series will feature another matchup of a veteran starting pitcher against a promising rookie in the finale on Thursday afternoon.

Stephen Strasburg (13-0, 2.51 ERA) will start for the Nationals against 19-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias (1-2, 4.95).

In the series opener Tuesday night, it was the Nationals who started a rookie, as right-hander Reynaldo Lopez made his big league debut and was tagged with the loss after he gave up 10 hits and fanned nine in 4 2/3 innings.

Dodgers veteran Scott Kazmir threw seven innings of one-run ball that night, leading Los Angeles to an 8-4 victory. The Dodgers bounced back to beat the Nationals 8-1 Wednesday.

Urias will be summoned from Triple-A for the start on Thursday -- just as Lopez was on Tuesday.

It will be the third stint with the Dodgers this year for Urias and his ninth start. He made his last big league start on July 4 at home against the Baltimore Orioles and gave up five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

He has struck out 44 and walked 17 in 36 1/3 this season at the big league level. With Triple-A Oklahoma City, he is 4-1 with a 1.07 ERA in nine games (seven starts), logging 45 strikeouts and just eight walks in 42 innings.

Urias faced the Nationals on June 22 in Los Angeles, and he gave up two runs on six hits in five innings. He did not figure in the decision as the Dodgers won 4-3 while sweeping a three-game series.

In that game, Urias struck out six and walked one while throwing 94 pitches.

The Dodgers need Urias to step up to assist an ailing rotation. Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list due to a herniated back disk, and the timetable for his return is uncertain. Meanwhile, left-hander Alex Wood underwent an arthroscopic debridement on his left elbow Wednesday in New York City, and he is expected to miss eight weeks.

Manager Dave Roberts said of possible surgery for Kershaw, "I have not been told that. For me that is just logic. Surgery is more of a possibility ... the way his back responded (after throwing Saturday). We are certainly hopeful Clayton will be back. (He has) no shooting pain. He is trying to keep the focus on his teammates."

As for Wood, who is 1-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts this year, Roberts said. "He was pitching so well."

The same can be said for Strasburg, the first National League starter since 1912 to begin a year 13-0.

Strasburg was slated to pitch against the Dodgers and Kershaw in Los Angeles on June 20, but just before the game, he was pulled due to an upper back strain. He wound up on the disabled list before returning July 3.

In his past four starts, Strasburg is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA. He threw eight innings of one-run ball Friday in a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"He's been outstanding," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Friday. "His record speaks for himself. It seems he's in the best shape of his life. We urged him to increase his work in between starts; it seems like it has paid off."

Strasburg has made four career starts against the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA.