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WSH@MIL: Zimmermann throws six scoreless innings

Nationals manager Davey Johnson and Giants manager Bruce Bochy have had conversations with each other, trying to figure out what has gone so wrong with their respective teams.

Last year, they seemed as if they would meet in the National League Championship Series, but the Nats lost in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.

When the two teams play the second game of a three-game series at Nationals Park on Wednesday night, San Francisco will be in last place in the NL West, while Washington will be trailing Atlanta by 14 games in the NL East.

Both teams have had trouble scoring, and only the Marlins and White Sox have scored fewer runs than the Nationals (27th) and Giants (28th) this season.

"They were bemoaning how they're hitting terrible," Johnson said. "And I said, 'Don't be talking that around me, we ain't hitting too good either.'

"They got the same disease we got: Can't hit one out of the infield. But it was fun to see how they were dealing with it."

The Nationals have been playing better recently and have won four straight. It's the first time in about a month that they've won more than three in a row, and they will try to match a season-high five-game winning streak on Wednesday.

"I think there's such a thing as momentum, too," Johnson said. "When there's a lot of little cracks in the dam, when a lot of water starts coming through, and then you get too many cracks, and you've got a flood. It's hard to change that momentum around."

The Nationals will be charged with the task of solving Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who has been dominant over his past three starts with a record of 1-1, a 1.23 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22 innings.

Meanwhile, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann has scuffled in four starts with a 6.75 ERA since the All-Star break.

Johnson said the right-hander is still having some stiffness in his neck, although Zimmermann maintains he feels fine.

Giants: Pagan close to rehab assignment
Angel Pagan is recovering so rapidly from this injured left hamstring that he could be playing in Minor League rehabilitation games by the end of the week.

He underwent surgery on June 25, and was expected to be sidelined for about 10-to-12 weeks and possibly the remainder of the season.

However, after hearing reports from the team's athletic trainer, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Pagan could rejoin the club before September.

Nationals: Harper has the flu

Bryce Harper was scratched from Tuesday's lineup with the flu. The 20-year-old spent most of the team's off-day Monday sleeping and couldn't eat much.

Harper did feel well enough to take batting practice on Tuesday, and he drew a pinch-hit walk in the eighth inning of Washington's 4-2 win.

The Nationals are hoping he will be able to return to the starting lineup Wednesday.

Worth noting
• Lincecum is averaging 9.51 strikeouts per nine innings over his last three starts.

• Zimmermann has a better career ERA (3.38) and WHIP (1.18) than Lincecum (3.40/1.23), although the Giants starter has won two Cy Young Awards. Comments