Thursday’s Nationals-Giants lineup

SAN FRANCISCO - It’s pouring rain here at AT&T Park, where the Nationals and Giants will play the final game of their series at 3:45 p.m., or whenever the weather allows for it. Here is the Nationals’ lineup for today; it’s got some twists that should prompt some interesting discussion with manager Jim Riggleman when he meets with the media in a while.

Maxwell, cf
Guzman, rf
Dunn, 1b
Zimmerman, 3b
Willingham, lf
Desmond, ss
Gonzalez, 2b
Maldonado, c
Stammen, rhp

Torres, rf
Sanchez, 2b
Sandoval, 3b
Huff, 1b
Uribe, ss
Rowand, cf
Bowker, lf
Whiteside, c
Zito, lhp

The highlights: Cristian Guzman is in right field, Justin Maxwell is leading off, Ryan Zimmerman is batting cleanup and Carlos Maldonado is slated for big-league action for the first time since 2007.

Manager Jim Riggleman said the lineup was mostly based around trying to get a few players in the lineup; he wanted to get Maxwell in center field against left-hander Barry Zito, and liked the idea of Guzman, who is one of the team’s best hitters against lefties, playing somewhere. But that wasn’t going to be at second, because he needed Alberto Gonzalez there to spell Adam Kennedy. Essentially, the Nationals had four lefties (Kennedy, Roger Bernadina, Morgan and Adam Dunn) they wanted to protect against Zito, and only Dunn is in the lineup; he’s hitting third so Ryan Zimmerman can get some protection from having a right-hander (Josh Willingham) behind him.

Had the Nationals started Mike Morse at first base, their only right-handed pinch-hitter would’ve been Wil Nieves, who is needed as a backup catcher today.