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09/20/09 7:33 PM ET

Nieves feels Nats fine behind the plate

Washington (51-98) vs. Los Angeles (90-60), 7:05 p.m. ET

NEW YORK -- Catcher Wil Nieves read a report that the Nationals needed to go out and get a defensive backup catcher who could block the ball better than Nieves and Josh Bard. Nieves was not in agreement with the report.

Entering Tuesday's action against the Dodgers, Nieves and Bard have only a combined seven passed balls, but Nationals pitchers have a combined 70 wild pitches.

Nieves said there is something reporters are not seeing during the game. He said that he and Bard sometimes block over 10 to 15 pitches in the dirt per game, so they are bound to let a couple of pitches go by them.

'If you look at the games, count how many balls the pitchers throw in the dirt," Nieves said. "We block balls. I've had games where I blocked 10 to 15 balls. We have more opportunities to miss the ball because so many balls have been thrown in the dirt."

Nieves, who has missed the past three games because of a left hamstring strain, hopes to start on Tuesday and catch right-hander Livan Hernandez.

Pitching matchup
WSH: Livan Hernandez (8-11, 5.22]
Hernandez continues to show that he wants to play for the Nationals next year. He already has four quality starts. In his most recent outing, Hernandez gave up two runs in six innings against the Phillies on Wednesday.

LAD: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-6, 3.86 ERA)
Kuroda has looked like his old self in his three starts back from a mild concussion. Against the Pirates, Kuroda allowed only one run on six hits in six innings. The right-hander relied heavily on his fastball against the Pirates but kept the ball down and struck out seven. That start followed up an eight-inning gem in San Francisco in which he allowed just two runs on three hits. With those outings, Kuroda is re-establishing his place in the pecking order of the Dodgers' starting rotation. This will be Kuroda's first career start against the Nationals.

Elijah Dukes has reached base in 21 consecutive games. ... Adam Dunn has walked 106 times this season.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WFED 1500, SBN 1390 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Nationals (Ross Detwiler, 0-6, 5.80) vs. Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 12-10, 4.05), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Nationals (J.D. Martin, 5-4, 4.21) vs. Dodgers (Vicente Padilla, 11-6, 4.52), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Nationals (John Lannan, 9-12, 4.07) vs. Braves (TBD), 7:05 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.