Starters still unnamed as countdown to Game 4 looms

LOS ANGELES - The Nationals and Dodgers knew all along they'd be playing Game 4 of the National League Division Series this afternoon. They just didn't know who the starting pitcher for either team would be. Or what time the game would begin.

As they woke up this morning, they still hadn't revealed the identities of the starting pitchers. But at least they knew the game time.

Thanks to the Giants' dramatic 13-inning victory that ended at 2:45 a.m. EDT, Game 4 at Dodger Stadium will begin at 5:05 p.m. EDT.

Up two games to one after Monday's 8-3 victory, the Nationals have a chance to capture the series with one more win today. That would propel them to their first-ever appearance in the National League Championship Series.

Reynaldo-Lopez-throwing-white-sidebar.jpgThe only question now: Who gets the ball?

Dusty Baker insisted after Monday's game that decision had not yet been made. This much we do know: It won't be Max Scherzer on short rest. It will be one of two young right-handers: Joe Ross or Reynaldo Lopez.

"We haven't decided yet," Baker said. "(Pitching coach) Mike (Maddux) and I were just talking about that. It's probably between, you know, Lopez and Ross. So we haven't really decided yet."

Ross has been lined up all along to make the start, but given the fact he hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches or four innings since returning from shoulder inflammation, the Nationals can't be confident he'll be able to pitch deep enough in this game.

Lopez, meanwhile, has been quite effective since moving to the bullpen last month, more effective than when he was starting earlier in the season.

Chances are, both right-handers will pitch at some point. It's just a matter of what order they enter.

"We're not playing gamesmanship, or whatever you call it," Baker said. "No, I mean, we just haven't decided. If we had decided, it doesn't really make any difference. You've got to tell them at some time sooner or later. So, no, we haven't decided yet."

The Dodgers hadn't decided as of Monday evening, either. Manager Dave Roberts was left to choose between 20-year-old left-hander Julio Urias and 28-year-old ace Clayton Kershaw (who would be pitching on only three days' rest).

"It's a possibility," Roberts said of Kershaw coming back to pitch. "I think you look at Julio at home, but you look at Kershaw on short rest at home. So as an organization, we've got to figure out what gives us the best chance tomorrow."

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