LaRoche returns, Harper leading off, Hairston in left

After missing two games with the flu, Adam LaRoche is back in the Nationals lineup today against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

LaRoche had been battling the flu for a few days now, an illness that left his body achy and confined him to a back room in the Nats' clubhouse during games so as not to infect his teammates.

He returns in time to face the major league leader in ERA (1.98) and WHIP (0.91). LaRoche is 4-for-16 (.250) with a homer and two RBIs in his career against Kershaw, arguably the toughest lefty in the game.

With LaRoche back, manager Davey Johnson can put Bryce Harper back in the leadoff spot, as he did in the final game of the first half. Harper responded by reaching base twice in six plate appearances in that game against the Marlins.

Harper will play center field today, and Scott Hairston will play left and hit seventh. This will be Hairston's second start since being acquired by the Nats in a trade with the Cubs two weeks ago.

In what should be a great pitching matchup. Jordan Zimmermann gets the ball for the Nats today. Zimmermann ranks seventh in the majors in ERA (2.58) and fifth in WHIP (0.97)

For the Dodgers, center fielder Matt Kemp comes back off the DL today after being held out due to left AC joint inflammation.

Yasiel Puig, who has gone 0-for-9 with five strikeouts in the first two games of the series, gets the day off today.

For the Nats
CF Bryce Harper
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Scott Hairston
C Kurt Suzuki
RHP Jordan Zimmermann

For the Dodgers
LF Carl Crawford
3B Nick Punto
1B Adrian Gonzalez
SS Hanley Ramirez
RF Andre Ethier
CF Matt Kemp
C A.J. Ellis
2B Mark Ellis
LHP Clayton Kershaw

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