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Nationals Look To Avoid Sweep Against The Marlins

(Sports Network) - The chances of the Marlins matching their longest winning streak of the season and completing a three-game sweep of Washington tonight just got stronger with Ricky Nolasco set to take the mound.

Nolasco has won five straight road starts and is 8-2 with a 3.86 earned run average in 12 outings as the visitor this season. Nolasco had a personal three-game winning streak cut short in last Friday's 7-0 loss at home to St. Louis, as he surrendered all seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.

The right-hander, who is 12-8 in 23 overall starts this season, was recently beaten by the Nationals on July 16 in a 4-0 setback. Nolasco lasted 5 1/3 innings and was reached for four runs and seven hits, but is still 7-3 in 13 career meetings (11 starts) with the Nats.

Florida has to like those odds and has won three in a row, including the first two portions of this series. In Wednesday's 9-5 victory from Nationals Park, the Marlins beat up another Washington starter and got a huge night from young prospect Mike Stanton. Stanton went 5-for-5 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored, while Hanley Ramirez also went deep for the Marlins, who pounded Nationals starter Scott Olsen for seven runs in only 1 2/3 innings. Florida got to Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg for six runs in the series opener.

"He's been taking very good at-bats," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Stanton. "What he did tonight could be the start of very good things to come."

Logan Morrison had a three-hit night and scored three times, and Chris Volstad gathered the win even though he allowed four runs and nine hits through five innings of work. The Marlins sit nine games off the lead in the National League East Division and are off to a perfect start on their 10-game trek through Washington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

The Nationals couldn't save themselves from Olsen's poor outing and dropped their fourth straight game. Ian Desmond showed up in defeat with a pair of home runs and All-Star Ryan Zimmerman ended 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Nationals, who got three hits and an RBI from Ivan Rodriguez.

"I can't say that it wasn't a well-played game," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "I think we played with great effort and intensity and that's what we ask from our players. We've been getting that every night."

Nationals slugger Adam Dunn clubbed his 31st home run of the season.

Livan Hernandez draws the start for Washington tonight and he's 8-7 with a 3.03 earned run average in 23 starts this season. He has won two of his previous three decisions, but did not figure into the outcome of Saturday's 3-2 loss at Los Angeles. Hernandez gave up two runs -- one earned -- and five hits in seven innings.

The veteran right-hander lost to Florida on July 17 this season. In a 2-0 loss to the Marlins, he tossed six innings and permitted two runs, one earned. Hernandez is 13-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 30 career starts against his former employer. Hernandez won a World Series with the Marlins in 1997, earning MVP honors.

Florida has won seven of 11 meetings with the Nationals this season.