Flores nears return to Nationals

Flores nears return to Nationals

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals starting catcher Jesus Flores is close to returning to the starting lineup after being sidelined for the past three games because of a right shoulder contusion.

Flores was hit in the shoulder in the seventh inning of Saturday's game against the Diamondbacks and has been sidelined since. According to Flores, the ball struck him right on the bone at the top of his shoulder, causing him major discomfort when he throws and swings the bat.

"I want to play, but I can't throw the ball very well right now," Flores said. "I can swing, but the pain is in my right shoulder and that's my power arm. It's better for me to rest than come back too soon."

Manager Manny Acta said prior to Tuesday night's game that Flores was available to pinch-hit, and that a decision would be made later as to when he could be back behind the plate.

"He's pretty close. We just don't want to take any chances," Acta said. "Watch out, because we could bring him off the bench. He's almost ready."

Flores has been a bright spot in the Nats' lineup, hitting .311 with four homers, three doubles and 15 RBIs in 26 games.

"I hope to be playing [Wednesday], but I have to see how I feel in the morning," Flores said. "I've been getting some treatment by the trainers, so we'll see what happens."

With or without Flores, the Nationals will try to snap their three-game losing streak against the Giants by sending Shairon Martis to the mound Wednesday afternoon. Martis, who was acquired from the Giants in 2006 for reliever Mike Stanton, is off to a solid start this season.

The 22-year-old is 4-0 with a 4.67 ERA in six starts this season. He has not faced the Giants since being acquired by the Nats.

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP Shairon Martis (4-0, 4.67 ERA)
Six days after pitching the first complete game of his career, Martis lasted only 5 1/3 innings Friday, but it was good enough to help the Nationals defeat the Diamondbacks, 5-4, at Chase Field. Martis allowed three of the four runs on nine hits, while striking out six batters and walking two. What made this start impressive was that Martis was able to get out of jams. For example, after Chris Young tripled home Felipe Lopez to cut the lead to 4-2 with no outs in the fifth inning, Young was left stranded at third. Martis struck out Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds and got Josh Whitesell to fly out to right fielder Austin Kearns. The entire season has been good for Martis, 22. He now leads the Nationals with four wins, which ranks second in the National League.

SF: LHP Barry Zito (1-2, 3.57 ERA)
Not long ago, a strong outing from Zito would be regarded as an aberration. Now it's considered almost routine. Zito has thrived in his past four starts, posting a 1.37 ERA in that span. More importantly, the Giants have won each of those games, though Zito earned the decision just once. Zito's resurgence bodes well for him and the Giants, since he's typically a second-half pitcher. Entering this year he was 53-57 with a 4.14 ERA lifetime before the All-Star break and 70-36, 3.47 afterward.

Tidbits
Elijah Dukes was scratched from the starting lineup Tuesday after feeling ill before the game. Dukes came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. ... The Nats have now lost nine consecutive games to the Giants dating back to last season. ... The Nationals have homered in 11 of their last 12 games, including a season-best eight in a row.

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On the Internet
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On radio
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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Nationals (John Lannan, 2-3, 3.89) vs. Phillies (Joe Blanton, 1-3, 6.82), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Nationals (Scott Olsen, 1-3, 7.00) vs. Phillies (Brett Myers, 2-2, 4.81), 1:05 p.m. ET

Jayson Addcox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.