Marlins-Nationals Preview


The Washington Nationals might have to work a little harder with ace Stephen Strasburg done for the season. The NL East leaders put in plenty of overtime Saturday to get the job done.

A day after Strasburg was shut down until 2013, the Nationals will go for their first season series win over the Miami Marlins in five years Sunday when these division foes meet for the final time in 2012.

Entering this series on a five-game home winning streak, Washington (86-53) not only had that run snapped Friday when Strasburg was tagged for five runs in three innings of Friday's 9-7, 10-inning defeat, the club lost its ace for the season.

Strasburg was scheduled for one more start before getting shut down, but the Nationals announced Saturday they were ending the All-Star right-hander's season immediately. Strasburg finished 15-6 with 197 strikeouts in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

"The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable," manager Davey Johnson said. "I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change."

Hours after Johnson announced that Strasburg was done, the Nationals improved their major league-best record with a 7-6, 10-inning victory. Following a 2-hour, 33-minute rain delay in the ninth, Jayson Werth sent the game to extras with a solo homer before Corey Brown ended the contest with an RBI single.

The Nationals own a 6 1/2-game cushion over second-place Atlanta in the division, but Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is unsure how far Washington will be able to go without Strasburg.

"In my opinion, in what I see, do they need him? Yes," Guillen told the team's official website Saturday. "But the four guys they have behind are (pretty) good, too."

Sunday's scheduled starter, Edwin Jackson (9-9, 3.15 ERA), who played for Guillen with the Chicago White Sox last season, has won his last two starts, but the Nationals scored 19 times in those games.

"There's definitely nobody in the clubhouse that's going to complain about run support," Jackson said after giving up four runs in 5 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 11-5 win over the Cubs.

The way he's pitched against Miami (62-78), the right-hander might need plenty of run support to avoid an unhappy 29th birthday. Jackson is 1-5 with a 5.63 ERA in six lifetime starts versus Miami.

The Marlins counter with Ricky Nolasco (11-12, 4.64), who looks to win a third straight start.

The right-hander went seven strong innings in Monday's 7-3 victory over Milwaukee, five days after outpitching Strasburg and throwing a five-hitter in a 9-0 win.

"The last two outings for Ricky have been great," Guillen said. "I'm glad to see that."

He didn't walk a batter in either start but both were at home. Nolasco is 0-4 with a 6.60 ERA on the road since the All-Star break, walking 12 in five starts.

Nolasco will be wary of rookie Bryce Harper, batting .364 with six homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, and Ryan Zimmerman, hitting .349 with four home runs and 11 RBIs against Miami this season. Both homered Saturday and are 3 for 11 against Nolasco.

Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton will try to homer for a third straight game and fifth time off Nationals pitching in 2012.

Washington is 9-8 against Miami this season. The Nationals' last season series win over the Marlins came in 2007 when they went 10-8.