Marlins-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

The Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg was ready to get past his worst outing of the season not long after it ended. A matchup with the Miami Marlins would appear to give him an ideal opportunity to do just that.

The right-hander will try to extend his 21-inning scoreless streak against the Marlins on Sunday while helping the Nationals bolster their NL East lead.

After going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA over his previous three starts, Strasburg (11-5, 3.12 ERA) matched a career high with six runs allowed in an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"Obviously, he didn't have his best stuff and his location wasn't real good," manager Davey Johnson said. "He was fighting himself, young pitcher, lost a little poise. It's part of growing up."

A pair of homers accounted for four runs, and Strasburg gave up another six hits over his four innings.

"It's always a new day, so you can't really worry about what you did the last time," he said. "I've just got to keep moving forward."

A matchup with the Marlins (49-59) could help the right-hander move on. He's 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six career starts against Miami, including two this season.

Strasburg has lasted six innings in each and his scoreless streak is tied for the fourth-longest active one for a starting pitcher against any opponent. Nationals teammate Gio Gonzalez owns the longest, but his run of 27 2-3 shutout innings is against Cleveland.

The Nationals (64-43) would love to see Strasburg top that mark and earn another win over Miami. After splitting a series-opening doubleheader, Washington rallied for a 10-7 victory Saturday after overcoming a season high-tying three errors.

Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper homered during a six-run eighth inning, and Adam LaRoche hit a pair of home runs, giving him seven in his last 11 games. LaRoche is also batting .439 (18 for 41) with 14 RBIs over that stretch.

The win, coupled with Atlanta's loss to Houston, put the Nationals three games ahead of the Braves in the division.

"It started out a very sloppy game on our end, really for the majority of that game,'' LaRoche said. "To turn it around like that, it says something about this club. Not that we should be surprised. We've been doing it all year."

In this game, LaRoche and the Nationals will face Ricky Nolasco (8-10, 4.90), who is 0-4 with a 7.48 ERA over his last four starts.

Nolasco suffered the first of those defeats against Strasburg on July 15, giving up four runs over 5 1-3 innings in his only matchup with Washington this season. He allowed another four runs over five innings during a 7-1 loss in Atlanta on Tuesday.

"It's just a tough time right now for me, and a lot of people," he told the team's website. "We have to deal with it."

Jose Reyes will try to help his team salvage the series finale while extending his hit streak to 24 games. The shortstop tied the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano for the longest streak in the majors this season by going 3 for 4 on Saturday.

Reyes, batting .376 over his streak, is 3 for 6 with two doubles lifetime against Strasburg. Carlos Lee, 17 for 34 (.500) during a 10-game hit streak, is 2 for 7 with five runs scored during the series.

Washington's Michael Morse, owner of a 13-game hit streak, is 3 for 9 versus Nolasco.