Game 56 lineups: Nats at Braves

ATLANTA - The Nationals, as surely you know by now, have not swept a series yet this season. Shoot, they just finally completed their first three-game winning streak last weekend. But if they can beat the Braves again tonight, they will have crossed that off list at last. Yes, it's only a two-game series, but beggars can't be choosers.

Sanchez-Pitching-Gray-sidebar.jpgA win tonight would be no small task. The Nationals would have to win a game started by Aníbal Sánchez, something they've done only twice in nine previous attempts, none since April 13. Sanchez himself is still seeking his first win, having opened the season 0-6 with a 5.10 ERA. The veteran right-hander returns to SunTrust Park, where he enjoyed a career renaissance last year, to make his first start off the injured list. Davey Martinez said yesterday he anticipates 75-80 pitches from Sánchez.

That helps explain in part the Nationals' corresponding roster move today to open a spot for Sánchez: James Bourque was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. That means Kyle McGowin stays for now, but that may be in large part as insurance in case Sanchez doesn't go deep in tonight's game. Beyond that, there wouldn't seem to be a lot of reason to keep McGowin in the big league bullpen.

The Nationals lineup will try to sustain some rallies against Kevin Gausman, who faced Washington twice last season - once with the Orioles, once with the Braves - and allowed five earned runs in 11 2/3 innings. On paper, this looks like the best lineup they've fielded in a while, with Howie Kendrick at second base, Matt Adams batting sixth and Kurt Suzuki (making his third straight start behind the plate) batting seventh. We'll see if that translates into success in the game.

Where: SunTrust Park
Gametime: 7:20 p.m. EDT
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM,
Weather: Clear, 90 degrees, wind 19 mph right field to left field

SS Trea Turner
RF Adam Eaton
3B Anthony Rendon
LF Juan Soto
2B Howie Kendrick
1B Matt Adams
C Kurt Suzuki
CF Victor Robles
RHP Aníbal Sánchez

BRAVES (30-25)
CF Ronald Acuña Jr.
SS Dansby Swanson
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Nick Markakis
LF Austin Riley
C Tyler Flowers
2B Ozzie Albies
RHP Kevin Gausman

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