Zimmerman makes first career start at first base (Span scratched)

The Nationals will try to avoid the sweep today in St. Louis, sending right-hander Doug Fister to the mound. Fister is 5-0 with a 1.95 ERA in his last five starts.

He'll have a markedly different alignment supporting him, starting with third baseman-turned-left fielder Ryan Zimmerman, who is making his first career start at first base and batting cleanup. With left-hander Jaime Garcia pitching for the Cardinals, lefty swinging Adam LaRoche gets a day off.

The Nationals gave Zimmerman regular reps at first base during spring training, but he played only two innings there in Grapefruit League games.

Scott Hairston shifts into left field, while Sandy Leon makes his first start since being summoned from Triple-A Syracuse to replace the injured Wilson Ramos.

Update: The Nats have scratched Denard Span from this afternoon's lineup with a stiff back. However, Span is available off the bench today.

Nate McLouth has been inserted into center field and the second spot in the batting order, with Anthony Rendon moving up a spot to lead off.

For the Nationals
3B Anthony Rendon
CF Nate McLouth
RF Jayson Werth
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Scott Hairston
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Sandy Leon
RHP Doug Fister

For the Cardinals
3B Matt Carpenter
2B Kolten Wong
LF Matt Holliday
RF Allen Craig
1B Matt Adams
SS Jhonny Peralta
CF Jon Jay
C Tony Cruz
LHP Jaime Garcia

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