After dropping three of four to the fourth-place New York Mets over the weekend, third-place Washington (77-77) needs to go 4-2 this weekend to cap a seventh straight winning season.
Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 2.35) and right-hander Stephen Strasburg (9-7, 3.83) square off in a rematch of a Sept. 18 pairing won by Strasburg and Washington, 4-2. Strasburg allowed two runs on five hits over six innings, while striking out 11 and walking two.
Over his last five starts, Strasburg is 3-0 with a 2.64 ERA and 38 strikeouts.
"He's been really good," Nationals manager Dave Martinez told The Washington Post. "He's pitching now. He's mixing all of his pitches in and attacking the strike zone."
Strasburg is 17-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 30 career starts against Miami.
Alcantara lasted just four innings against Washington, allowing three earned runs on six hits and six walks in absorbing his first loss of the season.
"When we talk about young guys, this is what we see," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "We see good and then we see some ones that are not as good. Today, the command didn't seem to be there. A lot of misses, counts get bad and a lot of pitches in a short period of time.
"It's something he'll be able to learn from and you've got to continue to work and be consistent with what you do and that's what separates the guys who are going to be really good and the guys who are going to be OK."
Miami finished the home portion of its schedule with a 6-0 win over the Reds Sunday, taking three of four in the weekend series. At 62-93 with one game unlikely to be made up, the Marlins should avoid 100 losses but also won't approach their 77 wins of a year ago.
"No matter what, we knew what we were kind of embarking on this year, with a lot of the changes," Mattingly told mlb.com. "The new direction of the club, under the new ownership. You understand all that. Still, the losses add up, and those are hard to deal with.
"But I've been proud of the guys. I've felt they've continued to play hard and continued to give you the effort, and that's not easy to do when you're taking that many losses on the chin."
Washington is also playing out the string after being eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday. They lost 8-6 to the Mets in Sunday's finale.
Twenty-five-year-old rookie Erick Fedde, the team's first-round pick in the 2014 draft, is among those bidding for a 2019 starting rotation spot. Against the Mets Sunday, he lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs in a no-decision.
In nine starts this season, Fedde has yet to go beyond six innings.
"There are times when I'm like: 'I can pitch at this level, I can be successful and I think I can dominate,'" he told MASN.com. "And then there are times that are like: 'What are you doing out there?' But I think that comes with the learning curve, and I just need to make sure that isn't a very long learning curve."
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