Nationals send Strasburg to hill versus Marlins

Former first overall pick Stephen Strasburg can shake off a rare poor outing today when the Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins to complete a four-game series at Nationals Park.

The 24-year-old, chosen No. 1 by the Nationals in 2009, had allowed five runs over 18 1/3 innings in three starts before a July 31 loss to Philadelphia, which pasted him for six runs in four innings of an 8-0 win.

The defeat bumped Strasburg's earned run average from 2.76 to 3.12 on the season and was just his third loss in 10 home starts in 2012.

He last faced the Marlins on July 15 in Miami and tossed six scoreless innings with a walk and seven strikeouts en route to a 4-0 win.

In two meetings with Miami this season, he's allowed 10 hits in 12 scoreless innings with two walks and 13 strikeouts.

In Saturday's third game, Danny Espinosa hit a three-run home run and Bryce Harper added a solo shot as part of a six-run eighth inning in Washington's 10-7 win.

Adam LaRoche continued his offensive hot streak with two solo home runs, while Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse contributed an RBI single each for the NL East-leading Nationals, who have won three of their last four.

Ryan Mattheus (4-1) got the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed five runs - four earned - on seven hits and a walk over five innings.

"We didn't play very well, but we persevered," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "It was fun, really fun."

Carlos Lee drove in a pair of runs and Jose Reyes went 3-for-4 with four runs scored to extend his career-best hitting streak to 23 games for the Marlins, who have dropped three of their last four.

Donovan Solano also knocked in two runs in the setback.

Mike Dunn (0-1) was saddled with the loss after allowing six unearned runs on four hits in the decisive eighth inning.

Miami turns to skidding Californian Ricky Nolasco for the finale with an eye on getting him his first win since the All-Star break.

Nolasco was a 3-2 winner at St. Louis on July 6 to improve to 8-6 before the midsummer intermission, but is 0-4 since, including a 4-0 loss to the Nationals in Miami on July 15.

In that game, which dropped his career record against Washington to 9-4, Nolasco allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

He's dropped verdicts to Pittsburgh and Atlanta twice since while allowing 23 hits and 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings.

Nolasco is 5-4 in 10 road starts in 2012.

The Marlins have won six of 11 games between the teams this season, including a three-game sweep in Miami from May 28-30.

The Nationals have not won the season series since 2007.