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05/24/08 1:00 AM ET

Stearns subs for Tolman at third

Washington (21-28) vs. Milwaukee (22-26), Saturday, 7:10 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON -- Double-A Harrisburg manager John Stearns was coaching third base for the Nationals on Friday night, while Tim Tolman, who is usually at the coaching lines, attended his son's high school graduation. Tolman is expected back on Saturday.

Stearns is guiding Harrisburg to a great season. Entering Saturday's action, the Senators have a 29-16 record. The reason for the success is team chemistry.

"We have a great bunch of guys," Stearns said. "They come in to the park at 1 p.m. for a night game to hang out together in the clubhouse. Everybody is getting along. Everybody is having fun. We have some really good young talent down there in Harrisburg."

Stearns mentioned that outfielders Roger Bernadina, Mike Daniel and Justin Maxwell, catcher Luke Montz and pitchers Cory VanAllen and Jordan Zimmerman are guys who are capable of being in the big leagues soon.

Of the six, Maxwell is the only one with big league experience. Last year, he hit .269 with two home runs and five RBIs for Washington in 15 games. Currently, Maxwell has a .246 batting average with seven home runs and 26 RBIs for Harrisburg.

Stearns said one should ignore Maxwell's batting average because the young outfielder has shown more patience at the plate. In fact, Maxwell has a .386 on-base percentage.

"He is on base a lot," Stearns said. "He is scoring runs. He is a good looking player. He is really making improvements on his strike-zone recognition this year. I've been shocked at how well he is not biting on that breaking ball out of the zone."

Pitching matchup
WSH: LHP John Lannan (4-4, 3.40 ERA)
Manager Manny Acta usually doesn't compare his players to future Hall of Famers, but after watching Lannan pitch one of his best games in a 2-1 victory over the Orioles last Sunday, Acta called Lannan's performance Greg Maddux-esque. Lannan pitched 7 1/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits. In his first seven innings, Lannan had 10 ground-ball outs and allowed only two hits. He threw 94 pitches by that time, including 74 for strikes. The only time the Orioles had runners in scoring position during those seven innings was in the sixth, when Melvin Mora hit a two-out double.

MIL: RHP Seth McClung (1-1, 3.54 ERA)
McClung replaces right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who was bumped to the bullpen after posting a 9.00 ERA in four May starts. Yost figures to get about 75 pitches out of McClung, a hard thrower who has made 37 Major League starts for the Rays, but had pitched exclusively in relief since joining the Brewers late last season.

Wily Mo Pena hit his first home run of the season on Friday. It was the first home run by a Nationals outfielder since May 8. Willie Harris and Rob Mackowiak hit home runs against the Astros that day. ... Odalis Perez has a 2.51 ERA at Nationals Park. ... Ryan Zimmerman is hitting .324 (23-for-71) with 13 RBIs in his last 17 games.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
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On radio
• WWWT 1500

Up next
• Sunday: Nationals (Tim Redding, 6-3, 3.16) vs. Brewers (Manny Parra, 2-2, 4.40), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Nationals (Jason Bergmann, 1-1, 5.47) vs. Brewers (Ben Sheets, 5-1, 2.92), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Nationals (Shawn Hill, 0-1, 4.08) at Padres (Randy Wolf, 3-4, 4.76), 10:05 p.m. ET

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.