Belliard, whom Acta plans to start in two of the three games this series, is 9-for-18 with one home run and one double in his last eight games, including 7-for-13 in his last three starts.Lopez, 2-for-26 in his last six games, has looked a little frustrated at times this year, according to Acta, who isn't worried about the infielder's performance.
"He's been hitting the ball hard with no luck whatsoever, but he keeps working hard. He's going to snap out of it."Dome concerns: Friday's game was the Nationals' first on an artificial surface this season. It came in a stadium that can often be hard on outfielders unaccustomed to the Teflon roof. Austin Kearns and Ryan Church took extra outfield practice before the game to get adjusted to seeing the ball off the bat. Acta said they had more trouble with the lights than the roof. "Some of those guys that have been here before like Guzzy and Dmitri [Young] have tried to help the guys out, but you still have to go out there, be able to see the ball and pick it up," Acta said. Even All-Stars can have trouble in the dome.
"This is Torii Hunter's house, and sometimes even he loses them," said Tony Batista.Maxwell honored: Hagerstown outfielder Justin Maxwell was named the Topps South Atlantic League Player of the Month for May. Maxwell, a fourth-round pick of the Nationals in 2005, hit .320 (31-for-97) with seven home runs, five doubles and 18 RBIs in the month. He had 10 multihit games while posting a .411 on-base percentage for the Class A Hagerstown Suns. Escobar in Potomac: Alex Escobar was scheduled to join Class A Potomac prior to Friday's game on a rehab assignment. The 28-year-old outfielder went down with a right quadriceps injury in Spring Training. He played in just 33 games last season because of hamstring injuries and a separated right shoulder, from which he hasn't fully recovered. "The last time we checked with the trainers, he was throwing 120 feet, but he still needs to have some consistency," Acta said. "It's about having to react to a play and being able to throw the ball without having any fear of hurting yourself. That's what we're trying to get to. I don't have a timetable." Stat of the day: This weekend's series is the first for a Washington club since the expansion Senators split a series at Metropolitan Stadium July 27-28, 1971. Stat of the day, part II: Entering Friday's game, Washington had beaten every Major League team at least once, except Minnesota. Coming up: The Nationals and Twins will play the second game of a three-game set at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Metrodome. Right-hander Levale Speigner (1-2, 9.10 ERA) is expected to face Minnesota ace Johan Santana (6-5, 3.30), the 2006 American League Cy Young Award winner.
Mike Cook is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.