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Riggleman plans to play Nats' regulars

Riggleman plans to play Nats' regulars

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WASHINGTON -- Although the Nationals are not in a pennant race, Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman is planning to play his regular position players the rest of the season as tries to win as many games as possible.

There is a reason for it. With the exception of the Mets, the Nationals will face playoff contenders such as the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. In fact, Washington plays the finale of a three-game series against Philadelphia on Thursday night at Nationals Park. Riggleman feels he owes it to those clubs to put out the best lineup.

So don't look for shortstop prospect Ian Desmond, for example, to get a lot of playing time.

"For the fairness of who is the best team in the division, you have to put your best people out there to play against those guys," Riggleman said. "If you get a couple of games where you are playing a non-contender, you might experiment a little more and give some guys some games.

"I think that until the division and Wild Card is won, we have an obligation to the other contenders to put our best players out there against the top teams."

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP Livan Hernandez (7-10, 5.44 ERA)
Hernandez had his worst outing since returning to the Nationals, and they paid for it in a 9-5 loss to the Marlins at Nationals Park on Saturday night. Hernandez, who lasted five innings and allowed six runs on eight hits, found himself in trouble starting in the first inning. Six of the eight batters he faced reached base, and three of them scored. In that inning, Hernandez threw 34 pitches, just 14 for strikes. It appeared he was settling down, holding Florida scoreless the next two innings, but Hernandez was hit hard in the fourth, as Florida scored four runs in the frame. Hanley Ramirez highlighted the scoring with a two-run homer to make it a 6-1 game.

PHI: RHP Joe Blanton (9-6, 3.80 ERA)
Blanton continues to pitch well. His 3.80 ERA is the lowest of any Phillies right-hander since Brett Myers' 3.72 ERA in 2005. The only other Phillies right-handers this decade to have better ERAs are Vicente Padilla (3.28 ERA in '02 and 3.62 ERA in '03) and Robert Person (3.63 ERA in '00). Blanton allowed six hits and three runs in six innings in a 5-4 loss to Houston on Saturday, when Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 10th save.

Tidbits
Alberto Gonzalez collected three doubles against the Phillies on Wednesday to raise his batting average to .259. ... Right-hander Garrett Mock has nine wild pitches 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 HD

On radio
• WFED 1500, SBN 1390 (Español), ESPN 730 (Sp.)

Up next
• Friday: Nationals (J.D. Martin, 3-4, 4.35) at Marlins (Josh Johnson, 14-4, 3.04), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Nationals (Marco Estrada, 0-0, -.--) at Marlins (Anibal Sanchez, 2-6, 4.47), 6:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Nationals (John Lannan, 8-11, 4.14) at Marlins (Rick VandenHurk, 2-2, 4.65), 1:10 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.

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