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Nationals Head To Florida For First Of Three Against Marlins

(Sports Network) - Despite pitching well over his last two starts, Nationals hurler Jason Marquis is still searching for his first victory in nearly a year. Unfortunately, tonight's opponent, the Marlins, have given him issues over the course of his career.

Florida hasn't exactly been gracious hosts to Washington overall either.

The Marlins go for their sixth straight victory over the Nationals this evening in the opener of a three-game set at Sun Life Stadium.

A right elbow injury has limited Marquis to just seven starts this year, but he has lost each outing. That includes each of his four starts since returning from the disabled list in early August, but the right-hander has yielded just two runs and eight hits over his last two starts, both shutout losses by the Nationals.

Versus the Cubs on Wednesday, Marquis pitched a season-high 7 1/3 innings, yielding a run on four hits and three walks in a 4-0 setback while finally giving Nationals fans something to cheer about.

"It was definitely nice to get the ovation," Marquis told Washington's website. "It has been a disappointment -- starting off with the injury and the first couple of games back from the disabled list. But I believe in myself. I try not to let outside negative pressures get in my head and allow them to creep in and doubt myself. I try to take all the positives out of every situation and just build on them."

The 32-year-old has lowered his season earned run average from 14.33 to 8.79 over his last two starts, but has struggled to a 4-5 mark and 7.05 ERA in his career versus the Marlins.

Marquis will try to halt Florida's series winning streak at five straight games. The Marlins posted a three-game road sweep when the clubs last met from Aug. 10-12 and lead the season series by an 8-4 margin.

Florida has also won 20 of the past 26 meetings between the two clubs in Miami.

The Marlins, though, bring a two-game losing streak into this series after blowing a five-run lead in Sunday's finale of a three-game series with the Braves. Atlanta scored three runs in the eighth inning to draw close, then tied the game in the ninth off Florida closer Leo Nunez after he served up a two-run homer to a pinch-hittingMatt Diaz.

Nunez retired the next two batters, but Brian McCann belted a game-ending homer that was initially ruled a double.

"I've never seen it before, but they got it right," Florida's Dan Uggla said of the reverse call. "He hit a home run, he deserved it, tip your hat again."

Hanley Ramirez had a pair of hits, one a three-run homer, before leaving the game in the third inning after feeling lightheaded following a slide into second base. The shortstop could be back in the lineup as early as tonight, though.

Alex Sanabia hopes the three-time All-Star will be behind him tonight as he tries to win his third straight start since returning from the minor leagues. The 21-year-old hasn't lost since June 30, his second MLB appearance, and is 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA this year in nine games, including six starts.

Sanabia's last outing came on Wednesday versus the Mets and he gave up three runs -- two earned -- on four hits over 6 1/3 frames of work.

The righty bested Washington at home on July 18 with 5 1/3 scoreless innings of four-hit ball in his first appearance against the club.

The Nationals will try to get the best of Sanabia tonight and record their third straight victory. They notched a 4-2 triumph over the Cardinals on Sunday to win the four-game set and post consecutive victories for the first time since a three-game win streak from July 29-31.

John Lannan hurled 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball and Mike Morse belted a two- run homer in the triumph for the hosting Nats.

Washington has lost six of its last eight on the road.