Nationals' Tuesday Night Lineup vs the Cardinals; Gio vs The Cards

Dilip Vishwanat

Davey Johnson's still running his A lineup out there after the Washington Nationals were mathematically eliminated last night. Can the Nats break the St. Louis Cardinals' five-game win streak which goes back to last October's NLDS and this past April's series sweep in D.C.?

Heading into the series in St. Louis, Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters he would enjoy getting an opportunity to alter the standings in the NL Central and pay the first-place Cardinals back a little for the series sweep earlier this season in D.C. and the fact that they knocked the Nats out of the NLDS last October.

"It was going to be a tough haul, but I'm proud of the guys. We battled. Now we're spoilers, so it's not over for us." - Davey Johnson on Nats' elimination from contention

"It would be nice to come in [to St. Louis] and play very well against them and tighten it up even further," the 70-year-old skipper told reporters. "Nothing worse than thinking about winning the division or losing it and having a one-game playoff. That would be the absolute worst thing. Or leading your division the whole way and then all-of-a-sudden having a one-game playoff."

"They swept us here [in D.C.]," Johnson explained, "and then they didn't do us any favors last year. So, I'd like to get back on even keel with them." The Nats' loss last night in the first game of three in Busch Stadium combined with the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates' wins mathematically eliminated Washington from contention for a postseason berth and had the Nationals' manager lamenting the missed opportunity.

"We gave it a good fight," Johnson told reporters, "we've just come up short. It was going to be a tough haul, but I'm proud of the guys. We battled. Now we're spoilers, so it's not over for us. We still have a say in this thing. But it's tough. You put the uniform on to win and we didn't get it done, so I feel bad for everybody."

Apparently Johnson meant it when he said, "it's not over for us," because the lineup he's running out against the Cardinals tonight is the same one that's been behind the Nats' late-season run (32-17 since August):

Gio Gonzalez makes his second regular season start against St. Louis tonight in Busch Stadium. Last time the Nats' lefty faced the Cards during the regular season he threw a complete game five-hitter on 119 pitches to earn his 17th win last August.

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