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Armas opposes Smoltz in series finale

Nats set sights on series win in Atlanta

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The Nationals look to boost their playoff hopes when they go for a series win in Thursday night's finale against the Braves at Turner Field.

To earn their third win in the four-game series, the Nationals hope their entire lineup will be able to produce offensively the same way Marlon Byrd did in Game 1 of Wednesday's doubleheader.

Byrd went 3-for-5, driving two balls over Andruw Jones' head in center field. One left the ballpark for Byrd's second home run of the season, and the other bounced off the wall for a double.

The Nationals also hope to get a successful outing from starter Tony Armas. The right-hander has won two of his last three road decisions and posted a 3-3 record to close out August. September has typically been one of his better months. In 17 career starts, Armas is 7-4 with a 4.55 ERA.

Atlanta will counter with John Smoltz. The veteran right-hander has four wins in his last five starts, and has allowed four home runs in that span. Brad Wilkerson has seemed to figure Smoltz out as he has a .455 (5-for-11) batting average against him this year. This is Smoltz's fourth start against Washington in 2005.

Pitching matchup
WAS: RHP Tony Armas
• 7-7, 4.53 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 3.00 ERA vs. ATL in 2005

ATL: RHP John Smoltz
• 13-6, 2.96 ERA in 2005
• 1-0, 2.86 ERA vs. WAS in 2005

Player to watch
Wilkerson is .316 (6-for-19) against Smoltz during his career. Two of the lefty's hits are doubles. Left-handed hitters are batting .249 against Smoltz this season.

Quotable
"I was able to eat more this morning. I had my pancakes. I didn't try the eggs. I still don't feel great, but I'm glad I got something in my stomach. I drank a lot of water and Powerade." -- John Patterson, discussing his health following a stomach virus that forced him out of Tuesday's game

On the Internet
MLB.TV
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television
• WAS: Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
• ATL: TBS

On radio
• WAS: WFED
• ATL: WGST 640 AM

Quick hits
With 43 saves this season, Chad Cordero is the youngest pitcher in Major League history to record 40 or more saves in a season. He tied John Wetteland's franchise record for most saves in one season with his 43rd on Wednesday night. ... Jose Guillen has hit 21 of his 24 home runs on the road. ...Frank Robinson celebrated his 70th birthday Wednesday. He's the third manager 70 or older in the Majors, joining San Francisco's Felipe Alou (70 years, three months) and Florida's Jack McKeon (74 years, nine months).

On deck
• Friday: vs. Philadelphia, 7:35 p.m. ET
• Saturday: vs. Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: vs. Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m. ET

Coley Harvey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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