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WSH@NYM: Gio pitches seven innings of one-run ball

A return to the big leagues would be a tall enough task for Mark Rogers. But in filling the void left in the Brewers' rotation by the Zack Greinke trade, the 26-year-old right-hander will make his first Major League start since 2010 under a different kind of pressure Sunday afternoon at Miller Park. Rogers will face the Nationals in the finale of the weekend series, of which Washington has won two of the first three games.

The Brewers won't look to Rogers, their fifth-overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, to produce like an ace immediately, but they will be intrigued to see the shape of their rotation after Greinke was traded to the Angels on Friday for rookie shortstop Jean Segura and two Minor League pitchers. Rogers' only previous Major League experience came in a four-game stint in 2010, when he made two starts and threw a total of 10 innings with a 1.80 ERA.

Rogers lasted only three and five innings, respectively, in the two starts, and his numbers at Triple-A Nashville (6-6 with a 4.72 ERA) this season haven't impressed much, either.

But manager Ron Roenicke has seen Rogers during the past two Spring Trainings, when he was only throwing between 88 and 90 miles per hour while enduring shoulder and wrist injuries. By the time he was making that four-game stretch with the Brewers in September 2010, Rogers had pushed his fastball up to 94-95 miles per hour.

"I'm back, hopefully, to the guy [Roenicke] saw on the film," Rogers said. "Over the last month, I feel like my stuff is better than it was back in 2010. I think that has a lot to do with repeating my delivery, being consistent and being confident. Confidence is so important. I feel like I'm back to being confident again and trusting my stuff."

From the opposing dugout, the Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound looking for his 14th win, which would tie him with David Price for most in the Majors and put him alone for the National League lead. After giving up six runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Mets on July 19, Gonzalez bounced back in his last start in New York on July 24. The left-hander allowed one unearned run and two hits over seven innings in a 5-2 win.

With a win on Sunday, the Nationals will return home for a series with the Phillies holding a 4.5-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

"I think it was just one of those things where you want to bounce back," Gonzalez said Tuesday. "You want to bounce back as a pitcher. You don't want to feel down and out. These guys came up to me and gave me some positive energy, positive feedback. I wanted to go out there and give them everything I can."

Nationals: Young starters seemingly being held back
• Though Gio Gonzalez threw only 87 pitches in his last start July 24 against the Mets, manager Davey Johnson elected to pull his All-Star left-hander after seven innings. With the Nats expected to shut down Stephen Strasburg once he reaches his supposed innings limit sometime this fall, speculation has surfaced that Johnson might be holding back some of his young starters to keep them fresher for the post-Strasburg rotation.

• One night after saying his right hand "felt a little tender" following a rehab assignment game with Triple-A Syracuse, Jayson Werth went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a run scored while playing center field for seven innings. Chad Tracy, also on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, could rejoin the Nationals for a three-game series with the Phillies beginning on Tuesday, but Werth will likely need more time.

Brewers: Kottaras trade with Athletics close
• Prior to Saturday's game with the Nationals, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said that while no deal was official, the team was close to trading catcher George Kottaras to the Athletics. Kottaras was designated for assignment on Thursday after Jonathan Lucroy was activated from the disabled list. An announcement on the trade might be held off as the A's contemplate other roster moves prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Worth noting
• Saturday's 4-1 victory over the Brewers was the 100th win for Davey Johnson since he took over as Washington's manager on June 26, 2011. Johnson's record is 100-83 in that span.

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