Hernandez looks to go above .500 vs. Cubs

Manager Lou Piniella decided to make Sunday’s game against the Braves his last in order to spend more time with his ailing mother in Tampa. It was a very emotional moment for the team and the city, especially after trading a team leader like Derrek Lee to Atlanta earlier in the week. The Cubs look vastly different from the last time these two teams tangled, as they recharge for 2011. Third-base coach Mike Quade will make his major league managerial debut tonight at Nats Park.

The Nats are coming off a tough weekend series in Philadelphia where they only scored runs on Saturday night and watched a scary moment as their franchise pitcher, Stephen Strasburg strained the flexor tendon in his pitching arm and had to leave the game. After a 2-4 road trip against the best in the East, the Nats need to take advantage of their home field and a Cubs team that has lost seven of their last 10 outings.

Right-hander Livan Hernandez (8-8, 3.06 ERA) faces off against Casey Coleman (0-1, 7.82). Hernandez went seven innings and scattered nine hits in his last start, allowing just two runs.

This is Coleman’s second start in the big leagues. Hernandez is 8-5 with a 3.63 ERA in the last 10 years against the Cubs. Overall, Livan is 11-6 with a 3.84 ERA in 21 starts against the Cubs, one of only eight teams he has double digit wins against in his career.

His 164 2/3 innings are the most he has had with one team since pitching 204.1 with the Diamondbacks in 2007. His 3.06 ERA is also his best since 2003 and beats last year’s total ERA by more than two full runs (5.44 ERA total 2009). There still should be eight starts on the table, but this is certainly a great season for Hernandez in keeping the run total down.

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