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Nats give ball to new ace Hill

Nats give ball to new ace Hill

The Nationals finish a 10-day road swing with a day game in Los Angeles. Both teams will have their No. 1 pitchers on the mound -- Brad Penny for the Dodgers, Shawn Hill for the Nationals.

With John Patterson out for the season, manager Manny Acta has called Hill the team's No. 1 pitcher, and he's proven worthy of the title so far this season. The right-hander has allowed only three runs in three starts this month, and has allowed more than two earned runs only once in 11 starts this season.

Since the lefty returned from an injury earlier this month, Acta has been cautious not to have him pitch too far into games.

Washington will return to RFK Stadium for a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP Shawn Hill (3-3, 2.31 ERA)
The Nationals lost to the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday, and it spoiled a nice outing by Hill. The right-hander pitched seven innings and gave up one run on four hits. The run scored in the first inning, when Troy Tulowitzki drove in Kazuo Matsui with a single to right field to tie the score at 1. At one point during the game, Hill retired 12 consecutive batters.

LAD: RHP Brad Penny (14-4, 2.65 ERA)
Penny had trouble with the top of the Mets' order in his last start, and he was unusually wild, a bad combination when the Dodgers' offense isn't scoring. In his four losses, the offense has supported him with only four runs. He's only 5-11 lifetime against the Mets and 1-9 at Shea Stadium, so the outcome wasn't a complete surprise. He's 12-5 with a 2.21 ERA lifetime against Washington/Montreal.

Player to watch
As the season enters its final weeks, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is closing in on his numbers from his first full year in the Major Leagues in 2006. Already in 2007, he has more triples (5) and home runs (22) than he did last year. Without Alfonso Soriano behind him in the lineup, though, his walks have dropped from 61 in 2006 to a total of 41 so far this season.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• MASN

On radio
• WTWP 1500, 107.7 FM

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Nationals (Tim Redding, 3-4, 3.10) vs. Giants (Kevin Correia, 2-6, 3.84), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Nationals (Joel Hanrahan, 3-2, 5.90) vs. Giants (Tim Lincecum, 7-4, 3.94), 7:05 p.m. ET

Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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