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Hill exits after five no-hit frames

Hill exits after five no-hit frames

WASHINGTON -- Shawn Hill didn't appear to be having much trouble in Friday night's start against the Marlins. The Nationals right-hander had been in complete command early in the game and was working on a no-hitter when he walked to the mound for the sixth inning.

That's when everything changed. Hill said in the dugout that his elbow was bothering him a little, and manager Manny Acta made a quick move when seeing the starter "playing" with the elbow on the mound, pulling the right-hander, who could be headed for the disabled list.

Hill didn't get the chance to go after the no-hitter, which ended an inning later, but the Nationals stopped their eight-game losing streak with a 6-0 victory over the Marlins at RFK Stadium. Hill got the victory, but the Nationals were clearly saddened by seeing one of their top pitchers get hurt.

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"It's a sour taste, even after snapping a losing streak and winning a great ballgame," Acta said. "The kid's been doing so great for us, and that's all we've been saying all along about his health, and now he goes down."

Dr. Benjamin Shaffer, the team's orthopedist and top physician, said later that Hill had inflammation on the medial side of the elbow and will have an MRI exam on Monday.

Shaffer also said that Hill will have an MRI done on his left shoulder, which has bothered him since jamming it during a slide a few weeks ago. But Shaffer said Hill will be shut down for 7-10 days, depending upon the upcoming examination. Hill said that even though it's his opposite shoulder, that soreness is really affecting his pitching mechanics.

He said the elbow's been bothering him for his past few starts, and that it bugged him throughout Friday night's game.

"It's all kind of precautionary," Hill said. "In Chicago [on Sunday] is when I first felt it. It was three starts after I messed up my shoulder. So I kind of took a little bit of abuse, and finally it caught up to me."

Hill said missing a shot at a no-hitter didn't bother him much.

"To be perfectly honest, I wasn't even thinking about the no-hitter," he said. "I was more frustrated about the fact that I'm out of the game and not healthy again, more than anything."

The 26-year-old Canadian missed the 2005 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2004. Hill returned to make six starts in 2006 and pitched well, but elbow soreness ended his season after June 28.

Hill said this soreness doesn't appear to be as bad as that one. Shaffer said they'll shut the righty down and give his elbow a chance to rest. Acta clearly was upset because he knows how much work Hill has done to get healthy.

Hill has been solid so far this season. He improved to 3-3 with an impressive 2.70 ERA in eight starts. He struck out five and walked two, needing just 65 pitches to get through the five innings.

He's now struck out 33 and walked 16 in his 50 innings. Hill also has given up just two homers this season. Now, he's just hoping to get back on the mound once again sooner rather than later.

"For me, I've pitched with elbow pain my whole career," Hill said. "This, I think, will go away."

Jeff Seidel 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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