Marlins-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

Since earning his first win over the Miami Marlins, the Washington Nationals' Jordan Zimmermann has only added to his string of superb outings.

The right-hander will try to extend his career-best win streak to six Saturday night with another victory over the Marlins.

Zimmermann is doing his best to aid the Nationals' drive to a division title by going 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA over his last seven starts. Among those outings was six-inning scoreless stint in a 5-1 win over Miami on July 13 that ended a personal three-game losing streak over his six previous starts versus the Marlins

Since that game, Zimmermann (8-6, 2.28 ERA) has allowed a combined two runs over three starts. He gave up one over six innings last Saturday during a 4-1 win at Milwaukee, which is around 200 miles away from his hometown of Auburndale, Wisc.

"There's really no wiggle room when you got Zimmermann, who's probably the most underrated pitcher in baseball," Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf told the Nationals' website. "He really goes under the radar, but he's got great numbers."

Zimmermann will try to keep his run going pitching opposite Mark Buehrle (9-10, 3.60), who is 0-2 with a 7.53 ERA over his last three starts. In the latest of those outings Monday in Atlanta, the left-hander gave up six runs, eight hits and four walks over 4 1-3 innings, his briefest start for Miami (49-58).

"I'm just falling behind too much and having to make pitches in tough spots behind in the count, in hitters' counts," Buehrle said. "It's just one of those stretches right now."

Buehrle is seeking to clinch his 12th consecutive 10-win season and might get there if he can repeat his latest outing against the Nationals (63-43). He gave up one run and struck out seven over seven innings during a 2-1 home victory July 14, his most recent one.

Miami heads into this game after earning its first win in four road games against Washington this season, 5-2 to split Friday's doubleheader. Carlos Lee drove in three runs during that victory and Jose Reyes went 3 for 5 to extend his hit streak to a career-best 22 games, one shy of tying the longest run in the majors this season.

The New York Yankees' Robinson Cano had a 23-game hit streak from June 24-July 20.

"I feel like every time I put a swing on the ball, it's a good swing," Reyes told the team's website. "That's good. I've been consistent, that's something I missed in the first half of the season, to just be consistent on a daily basis."

The Marlins, though, have hardly been consistent as a team lately, having lost 12 of 17 overall and 11 of 14 on the road. The Nationals, meanwhile, are 10-5 over their last 15, including a 7-4 victory Friday's series opener. Adam LaRoche, who homered and drove in three runs during that win, is batting .422 with five homers and 12 RBIs over his last 12 games.

LaRoche is 4 for 10 with two doubles lifetime against Buehrle, while Reyes is batting .316 (6 for 19) over his career versus Zimmermann. Washington's Michael Morse, riding a 12-game hit streak, is 1 for 9 against Buehrle.

Kurt Suzuki is expected to report to the Nationals in time for Saturday's game after the catcher was acquired from Oakland on Friday for a minor leaguer.

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