Nationals-Marlins Preview

The Miami Marlins have an opportunity to head into the All-Star

break riding their longest winning stretch in more than year.

Looking to win four in a row, the Marlins try to complete a home

series sweep of the underachieving Washington Nationals on

Sunday.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a tying homer in the ninth inning and Ed

Lucas beat out a potential double play at first base in the 10th to

give Miami (35-57) a 2-1 win over Washington on Saturday.

”That’s a double play in April,” Miami manager Mike Redmond

said. ”To win that thing on a fielder’s choice, and a lot of good

at-bats… it wasn’t a thing of beauty, but I’ll take it.”

The Marlins have followed a five-game skid with their fifth

three-game win streak this season. A winner in 19 of 32, Miami last

won four straight games June 27-July 1, 2012.

It’s only other sweep of at least three games this season came

against the New York Mets at home May 31-June 2.

Washington (47-47), meanwhile, is 1-5 on a seven-game trip and

trying to avoid being swept on the road for the first time since

Sept. 14-16 at Atlanta. The Nationals were also swept at Miami last

year.

Stanton has homered in consecutive games after hitting one in

his previous 21 contests.

“I figured he wasn’t going to throw a strike – which that

wasn’t,” Stanton said of the tying shot. “I just saw fastball and

reacted to it.”

Miami’s Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 5.73 ERA) will make his third

straight start since he missed the first three months with shoulder

inflammation. He allowed five runs and walked four in six innings

of a 6-4 loss Tuesday in his second straight outing versus

Atlanta.

“He came out in that first inning and he was lights-out,”

catcher Rob Brantly told the Marlins’ official website. “He was

competing and getting ahead in counts, making all his pitches,

quality pitches. After that, I think we started nitpicking the zone

too much. We started getting in hitters’ counts.

“As long as we keep them on the defensive, I think we’ll be all

right.”

Pitching for Toronto last year, the right-hander gave up four

runs on three homers, including one to Bryce Harper, in seven

innings of a 4-2 loss against Washington.

The reigning NL East champion Nationals have averaged 2.3 runs

on the current trip to continue their disappointing season of

mediocrity.

Harper went 0 for 3 and scored the lone run Saturday, but was

ejected for arguing a called third strike in the eighth.

“You can’t do that,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Take it out

on the pitcher. You can’t take the frustration out on the

umpire.”

Harper will start Tuesday’s All-Star game, but is 2 for 18 with

six strikeouts in five games and hitting .196 (9 for 46) with one

homer and six RBIs in July.

Washington’s Taylor Jordan (0-2, 3.45) tries a third time to

earn his first major league victory Sunday. The right-hander

allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 loss at

Philadelphia on Tuesday.