It's been five seasons since Max Scherzer lost three straight starts, and slightly longer since he went a full calendar month without a victory.
The right-hander looks to keep both from happening Friday night when his Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins.
In his first season as a full-time starter with Arizona in 2009, Scherzer (11-10, 2.79 ERA) went 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA in four April starts. Since, he's earned at least one winning decision in a month that's featured more than three games - a run that's in jeopardy heading into his final outing of August.
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Scherzer, who then would throw Sept. 2 at St. Louis, is 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts this month and in danger of losing three straight for the first time since May 2010. Though he hasn't completed more than six innings in any of those outings and has yielded five homers this month, Scherzer is not discouraged.
''I've been pitching with good stuff,'' he said after allowing three runs, eight hits and walking three in six-plus innings of last Thursday's 3-2 loss at Colorado. ''I just got to get back on track and keep going forward and keep pitching well, no matter what."
Scherzer is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA this season against Miami (51-77), which has totaled 13 runs while losing six of seven.
Washington (64-62) trails the NL East-leading New York Mets by 6 1/2 games, but has averaged 6.4 runs while winning four of five. Ryan Zimmerman, who homered for the second time in three games in Thursday's 4-2 win over San Diego, has nine RBIs in the last four contests.
He went 1 for 16 in his first five games against the Marlins this season but is 5 for 15 over the last four.
Washington, however, won't have Denard Span, who is headed back to the disabled list with hip inflammation. The center fielder played only two games since he was activated Tuesday from a DL stint that began July 10 because of back tightness.
Michael Taylor started in center Thursday but his status remains uncertain after he left with a knee contusion. Third baseman Yunel Escobar also is day to day with a hand contusion.
''I don't know if I've ever seen anything like (the injuries of the season),'' manager Matt Williams said. ''But it is what it is. There's not much you can do about it.''
The Nationals get their first look at Adam Conley (1-1, 4.88), who walked four but allowed one run in six innings of a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday in his fourth career start. Miami scored 37 runs in his first three starts.
''It's not going to happen every time for us, but the mission is still the same," the left-hander said.
Martin Prado is 6 for 13 against Scherzer, and batting .348 in the last six games.
Christian Yelich went 2 for 3 off Scherzer earlier this season, but he could miss a second straight contest with a bruised right knee. It's the same knee that landed him on the DL from Aug. 10 until Tuesday.