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Span gets to rest, McLouth hits leadoff

WASHINGTON -- Nate McLouth, still looking for his first hit as a member of the Nationals, got his second start of the season -- and first in the leadoff spot -- as manager Matt Williams continued to shake up his lineup on Thursday.

Williams said that there is nothing wrong with usual center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span, but with the Nats in an early stretch of 20 games in 20 days, the manager wanted to give Span a rest.

"We've got a stretch of games here with no off-day, so it's just a day [off]," Williams said. "Certainly have to get Nate in there and get him some ABs, too. No issues though. [Span's] good."

McLouth signed a two-year, $10.75 million deal this winter to serve as the Nats' fourth outfielder after logging nearly 600 plate appearances last season with the Orioles. He came into Thursday 0-for-5 with two walks, having made his first start on Sunday in the No. 7 spot in the lineup.

Meanwhile, Williams moved Bryce Harper from seventh in the order back to sixth after Harper broke out of a slump by going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs on Wednesday.

So far this season, Williams has used eight different batting orders in nine games. He's yet to use the same one in back-to-back games.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
Read More: Washington Nationals, Nate McLouth, Denard Span