Notes: Maxwell gets some playing time

Notes: Maxwell gets some playing time

WASHINGTON -- For Sunday's matinee against the Phillies, Nationals manager Manny Acta inserted outfielder Justin Maxwell in the starting lineup. The skipper also indicated that Maxwell will see more time against the Mets and Phillies this coming week in New York and Philadelphia.

Before Sunday's game, Maxwell had three hits, including a grand slam, in nine at-bats. Maxwell could have had at least two additional homers, but they ended up being long fly balls at spacious Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"I want to see the kid," Acta said. "I don't think [the Mets and Philllies] will complain because I'm going to play him against both of them."

Maxwell, who's considered by many to be the Nats' top prospect, said that he's been successful at the plate because interim hitting coach Lenny Harris is always giving him a scouting report on every pitcher and he watches video tapes before every game.

"I'm playing the game the way I know how to play it," Maxwell said. "I'm going up to the plate knowing what to expect. I have an idea what the pitcher has."

Injury report: Outfielder Wily Mo Pena was in the starting lineup on Sunday against Phillies, but he was a late scratch, because he had a tough time swinging the bat during batting practice. Pena's right hand has been bothering him since he was hit by a pitch on Friday night.

"It's so soon," Pena said. "They know it's going to be bothering me. I'm going to take another extra day and try tomorrow."

Tomorrow turned out to be Sunday. Pena entered the series finale in the eighth inning, and he singled to right-center field off Phillies reliever Kane Davis.

Catcher Jesus Flores had to leave Sunday's game after six innings because of a left elbow contusion. He's listed as day-to-day. With Geoff Geary on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, Flores was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and it gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead.

"He got hit pretty good," Acta said. "He has a deep bruise on his left elbow. He couldn't extend his left arm. That's why we had to take him out of the game. But that's probably the most beneficial hit by pitch he has gotten in his short career."

He said it: "If I had a chance to manage for the first time again, which is not going to happen, I would love to have the same type of team that I have. Let's be honest, a team loaded with superstars is not going to be handed to a first-year manager. But I could have been stuck with bad characters. But I was stuck with a bunch of guys who listened to me and my coaching staff and really played hard for us, despite our shortcomings. These kids showed a lot of heart. We are short in certain things, but not in desire and determination." -- Acta, on his first year

Stat of the day: In the first inning this season, opponents have scored 100 times, while the Nationals have crossed the plate 53 times. The sixth is the only frame in which Washington has scored 100 runs.

Did you know? Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals have not hit back-to-back home runs in 2007.

Coming up: The Nationals travel to New York to play a three-game set against the Mets at Shea Stadium, starting on Monday night at 7:10 ET. The teams faced each other this past Monday-Wednesda at RFK, with the Nationals taking two out of three games. In Game 1, left-hander Matt Chico (5-9, 4.74 ERA) will face Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-7, 5.24).

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.