Nationals-Marlins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 11, 2013
Stephen Strasburg earned the win over the weekend despite delivering a lackluster performance. While Strasburg has experienced a few hiccups against the Miami Marlins over his career, he has mostly had their number. Strasburg and the visiting Washington Nationals look to continue their recent success against the Marlins in the opener of a three-game set Friday night. Strasburg (5-6, 2.45 ERA) had gone 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA over an eight-start stretch before yielding four runs in six innings against San Diego on Sunday. The Nationals (47-45), though, backed him with a career-high 11 runs of support in an 11-7 victory. "He was battling," manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg, who struck out a season high-tying nine. "I thought he threw good. Sometimes he fights himself ... seems like the last couple of weeks he's been snake bit." The right-hander has received fewer than three runs of support in 12 of 17 starts. "It's good to put runs up there on the board for Stras," said left fielder Bryce Harper, batting .373 with six homers, nine RBIs and 11 runs in his last 12 games against the Marlins. Strasburg threw seven innings of three-hit ball to beat Miami 2-0 on opening day, improving to 5-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 10 career meetings. While he has allowed 18 runs over 12 1-3 innings in three of those outings, Strasburg has posted a 0.21 ERA in the others. Strasburg has had difficulty against slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who is 6 for 16 with a homer and four doubles in their matchups. Owner of the NL's worst record, Miami (33-57) had been limited to 12 runs during a five-game losing streak before beating Atlanta 6-2 on Wednesday. Placido Polanco had three hits and a season-high three RBIs while Stanton, who entered the game in a 3-for-26 slump, went 1 for 2 with a two-run double and career high-tying three walks. "That's a great sign," manager Mike Redmond said of Stanton. "He's such a big presence in that lineup. You can see how in situations they start pitching around him, but when he stays in the zone and handles the pitches he knows he's capable of handling, he can dominate a game." Stanton went 14 for 32 with five homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs in his final eight games against the Nationals in 2012, but he is 1 for 9 in three this year. The Marlins have hit .204 and scored 13 runs while dropping five of six in the series. Miami gives the ball to Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 2.55), who goes for his fifth quality start in as many tries since coming off the disabled list. The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings Saturday in a 5-4 loss at St. Louis. Set to make his first appearance versus Washington, Eovaldi will need to be careful against Jayson Werth, who is 14 for 26 with two homers during an eight-game hitting streak. While Werth went 2 for 4 on Thursday, the Nationals were limited to five hits in a 3-1 loss at Philadelphia. Hitting a major league-worst .216 on the road, Washington has dropped 17 of 26 away from home.
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