Flores could be back at backstop soon

Flores could be back soon

ATLANTA -- It looks as though catcher Jesus Flores' left ankle is getting better. He was seen walking without his ankle brace on Saturday afternoon, and it appears that he could be back behind the plate soon. Manager Manny Acta declined to give a timetable on when Flores will return to action.

"He is walking around better," said Acta. "I don't want to put a timetable on it, but I'm sure he is not going to be out for the season."

Flores sustained the injury playing against the Phillies on Tuesday. In the top of the third, with runners on first and third and two outs, left-hander John Lannan tried to pick off Jayson Werth. As the throw was going toward first baseman Ronnie Belliard, Chase Utley tried to steal home. Utley crashed into Flores shoulder-first and was tagged out. Flores tried to get up and hit the ground in pain.

With Flores -- who was not placed on the disabled list -- hurt, Wil Nieves is getting the bulk of the playing time, with Luke Montz serving as backup. Nieves has done a tremendous job calling games and has showed signs of life with the bat occasionally.

Pitching matchup
WAS: RHP Collin Balester (3-6, 4.75 ERA)
Balester said recently that he wanted to go deep into the games. He did just that on Aug. 31, against the Braves, but he was credited with a no-decision. It was as if he pitched two games that day. In the first four innings, he had a tough time with his location, and he paid for it by giving up four runs. In fact, the biggest hit for the Braves came in the fourth. After Martin Prado walked and Omar Infante singled, Yunel Escobar hit a 1-0 pitch for a three-run homer over the left-field wall to give Atlanta a 4-2 lead. But Balester settled down after that, retiring eight consecutive batters and pitching a total of seven innings. It was first time he was able to pitch that many innings this season.

ATL: LHP Jo-Jo Reyes (3-10, 5.49 ERA)
Reyes has shown little improvement as this season has progressed, and manager Bobby Cox showed little patience when he removed him from a game on Aug. 30 in the fifth inning with runners at first and second and the Braves owning a four-run lead against the Nationals. But at the same time, it took Reyes 94 pitches to complete four innings. In two starts against the Nationals this year, he has totaled 6 1/3 innings and allowed 10 earned runs on 15 hits.

Tidbits
Ryan Zimmerman is in the middle of a 12-game hitting streak and is hitting .396 during that span. ... Ryan Langerhans, who hit a pinch-hit homer on Saturday, now has three such homers during his career. ... The Nationals are 6-6 in extra-inning games.

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

On television
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On radio
• WWWT 1500

Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Nationals (John Lannan, 8-13, 3.88) at Mets (Oliver Perez, 10-7, 3.86), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Nationals (Odalis Perez, 6-10, 4.19) at Mets (Mike Pelfrey, 13-9, 3.62), 7:10 p.m. ET

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