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Ace-off: Kershaw takes on Zimmermann in D.C.

It's been no fun for opposing clubs over the past year when Jordan Zimmermann takes the hill at Nationals Park.

That's because the Nats right-hander hasn't lost a game at home since May 17, 2012, a span of 22 starts.

He'll look to keep that streak going in Sunday's series finale in an ace-off with Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw.

Zimmermann had an MRI exam taken on Friday, which showed he had an issue with some soft tissue in his stiff neck. However, Zimmermann said he is ready to go.

He pitched last Thursday against the Phillies, allowing two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings for the loss, just his fourth of the season.

Meanwhile, Kershaw is eager to get back on the hill, last pitching in a regular-season game on July 12 against the Rockies.

He took the loss in that game, allowing three runs on six hits in seven innings to fall to 8-6 on the season. He also struck out 10 and walked one.

"It happens some times," Kershaw said after the game. "You just battle and try to limit the damage as best you can."

Even with the loss, the left-hander is having a brilliant season, leading the Majors in ERA (1.98), opponents' batting average (.188) and WHIP (0.91). He also ranks second in the National League with 139 strikeouts and is tied for second in the NL with 16 quality starts. Kershaw threw a perfect inning in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

Dodgers: Kemp could return Sunday
• While Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp continues to progress, manager Don Mattingly isn't ready to commit to bringing him back for Sunday's series finale against the Nationals.

For the second straight day, Kemp faced teammate Ted Lilly, who is also on the disabled list, in a simulated game. The two squared off in a series of at-bats, with coaches giving them different situations, such as having runners on second and third with one out and the infield in.

Kemp has been out since July 5, when he irritated the AC joint in his left shoulder while taking a swing. Mattingly said he will have to talk to his medical staff before making a final decision.

"He's gonna be eligible for [Sunday], but I'm not sure what we're doing yet," Mattingly said.

Nationals: Detwiler could be out rest of homestand
• Ross Detwiler will not make his scheduled start against the Pirates on Tuesday, manager Davey Johnson said before Saturday's game against the Dodgers.

The left-hander threw a short bullpen session before Saturday night's game, but he still felt discomfort in his back.

"He's still not quite right, so he's going to have to wait a couple days and try to get up on the mound," Johnson said.

Detwiler threw 20-25 pitches on Saturday, but pitching coach Steve McCatty told Johnson that the southpaw was not getting full extension in his follow-through.

Worth noting
• In eight career games against the Nationals, Kershaw is 4-2 with a 3.27 ERA.

• Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche missed his second consecutive game on Saturday with flu-like symptoms, and he is still day to day. Comments