The Washington Times - July 19, 2011, 04:33PM

HOUSTON — Since he took over roughly three weeks ago, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has continuously lauded the way his team works. They’re out for early work — early hitting, early fielding, early conditioning — almost every afternoon. They work so much, Johnson said, that he’s considering putting “the clamps” on them and forcing them to rest a little more.

That obviously didn’t apply to Tuesday afternoon in Houston when several Nationals were once again out early to get in work before the middle game of the team’s three-game set with the Astros. 

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Neither did Johnson’s general rule that he prefers consistency when it came to making out Tuesday’s lineup.

With the Nationals facing lefty J.A. Happ, Jerry Hairston Jr. gets his first start since returning from the disabled list, playing left field and batting eighth. But the big shakeup comes at the top where Danny Espinosa moves into the leadoff spot, Ian Desmond jumps up to second and Roger Bernadina drops to the seven-hole. 

Johnson had said he’d prefer to leave Nix in against left-handed hitters but between him nursing a sore Achilles for what could likely be the rest of the season and Hairston needing to get back into regular playing time, it makes sense for him to rest Nix against a lefty.

The Nationals will look to win the series with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound for what projects to be one of his roughly seven final starts this season as he approaches his innings limit for the year. 

Here are the full lineups:

Nationals:

Danny Espinosa 2B
Ian Desmond SS
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Wilson Ramos C
Roger Bernadina CF
Jerry Hairston Jr. LF
Jordan Zimmermann P

Houston:

 Michael Bourn CF
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Brett Wallace 1B
Hunter Pence RF
Carlos Lee LF
Chris Johnson 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Humberto Quintero C
J.A. Happ P 

 

** On a personal note, apologies for no post-game blogs or early-morning blogs today — was operating without a hard drive. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Apple, we’re back up and running.