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Nats now to start Strasburg vs. Cubs after postponement

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs entered Tuesday's schedule Game 4 of the National League Division Series hoping to close out the Washington Nationals and advance to the NL Championship Series for the third consecutive season.

The Nationals were just hoping to play another day.

After rain washed out Tuesday's game at Wrigley Field, the Nationals got their wish while the Cubs' plans were put on hold. The Cubs, with their two-games-to-one lead, and Nationals will resume their best-of-five series Wednesday afternoon. They will play a deciding Game 5 on Thursday in Washington, if the Nationals win Wednesday.

"You're playing the most important games of the year -- you want to play in better weather," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after Tuesday's game was postponed. "Whatever (the weather) is, you've just got to get ready and go ahead and do it. There is no crying. You just go play."

The Cubs, who lead the series 2-1, will turn to their scheduled Game 4 starter, Jake Arrieta, on Wednesday looking to finish off the series. Arrieta, who missed 2 1/2 weeks with a right hamstring injury, recently threw two bullpen sessions and said Monday the injury would be a non-issue against the Nationals.

Arrieta dropped his only decision of the season to the Nationals and is 1-2 with a 5.48 ERA in nine career starts against Washington.

With his team's season on the line, Nationals manager Dusty Baker was going to stick with scheduled Game 4 starter Tanner Roark. Baker said earlier Tuesday that he would consider sending Stephen Strasburg to the mound if the game was pushed to Wednesday.

Strasburg held the Cubs without a hit for 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 before Chicago pulled out a 3-0 victory. He threw seven innings, allowing two unearned runs while striking out 10 batters.

But after Tuesday's game was pushed back to Wednesday, Baker announced Roark will remain the Game 4 starter. Asked about Strasburg's availability -- even out of the bullpen -- Baker said Strasburg was "under the weather" and cited a change in weather, air conditioning in the team hotel and mold in Chicago.

However, Strasburg will now start Game 4 in a dramatic reversal a few hours before the scheduled game. Strasburg told Baker he was feeling much better and could start.

With Strasburg being announced, Maddon changed his lineup card, taking out outfielder Kyle Schwarber and inserting outfielder Jason Heyward.

Tuesday's game was officially called 35 minutes after it was scheduled to begin. With rain forecast throughout the evening, Joe Torre -- Major League Baseball's chief baseball officer -- said there was not enough of a window without rain to begin the game with hopes of getting it in.

Torre said that not burning either of Tuesday's starting pitchers also played a factor in the decision not to begin the game even though rain did not start falling until shortly before the postponement announcement was made.

"Sure, we wanted to play -- I think everybody wanted to play," Torre said. "But we certainly didn't want to play at a cost, especially in postseason."

Torre said both Maddon and Baker, along with both team's general managers, were part of an initial meeting on Tuesday concerning the outlook of getting the game in. But once the forecast called for no halt in the rain in the foreseeable future Tuesday night, the decision was made to resume the series on Wednesday.

The winner of the series will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. The Dodgers will gain an extra day of rest after closing out the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

"Both these teams, between us and Washington, I think whoever wins this series, we'll be ready for that moment (to face the Dodgers)," Maddon said.

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