MLB

Preview: Dan Straily on mound as Marlins seek series split against Nationals

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WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals are among the major league leaders in batting average, home runs, runs and several other categories.

But that doesn't mean opposing pitchers hide from the chance to face a lineup that includes right fielder Bryce Harper (.327), first baseman Ryan Zimmerman (.310), second baseman Daniel Murphy (.332) and third baseman Anthony Rendon (.301).

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That is certainly the case for Miami Marlins right-hander Dan Straily (7-8, 3.77 ERA), who will start Thursday at Nationals Park against Washington right-hander Tanner Roark (9-7, 4.82) in a series finale.

Zimmerman hit two homers and drove in five runs as the Nationals won 10-1 on Wednesday.

"You set up a game plan. If you can execute it, you will probably come out on top," Straily said Tuesday before Miami's game in Washington.

Straily has allowed less than a hit (117) per inning (129), and his opponents are hitting .242.

In four career starts vs. Washington, he is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA. In two starts this year against the Nationals, he is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA.

"We all go through highs and lows," said Straily, who played in college at Marshall in West Virginia. "You have to be the same person and keep your same routine."

The Washington player with the most career at-bats against Straily is Howie Kendrick, who joined the team last month in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Kendrick is 6-for-20 (.300) against Straily, but the outfielder did not play Tuesday after leaving the game Monday with back tightness in the seventh inning. Kendrick returned Wednesday and had three hits.

"He can hit. He could hit before he got here," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "We have to spot him sometimes, but the guy could hit. He's a professional hitter. He's strong. He takes care of himself. He fits right in with the team."

The Nationals have limited success against Straily, as Murphy is 1-for-11 while Harper is 1-for-8.

Murphy did not start Tuesday and Wednesday as he deals with a minor hip problem. Baker said Wednesday he expects Murphy to be in the lineup Thursday.

Baker said he doesn't feel it is serious and wants to make sure Murphy gets rest so he doesn't miss more time, like he did at the end of last season.

"He should be OK tomorrow," Baker said. "We have to head that off. You have to recognize the signs."

Jayson Werth, the left fielder to start the year, took live batting practice against Stephen Strasburg in simulated game before Wednesday's contest.

Werth, recovering from a foot injury that has sidelined him for nine weeks, said he hopes to begin a more extensive running program Thursday and hopes to go out on a minor league rehab assignment in "a week or two."

"I have been pretty active. I have been biking, in the water swimming, a ton of things to stay in shape," Werth said. "When you are out, it is the worst place to be. I am getting back in time for the postseason run in September."

Roark has struggled against the Marlins, posting a 5-8 record and 4.27 ERA in 20 games (14 starts). This year, he is 1-0 with an 8.31 ERA in two starts against Miami.

Roark struggled earlier this season but has pitched better since the All-Star break, allowing eight runs in his last four starts.

Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the league leader in homers, has gone deep three times in 30 career at-bats against Roark, hitting .233 against the University of Illinois product.

Dee Gordon, the Marlins' second baseman, is hitting 7-for-18 (.389) against Roark, while Derek Dietrich is hitting .333 in 15 at-bats.

Miami has three players who are 1-for-1 against Roark: catcher Tomas Telis, former Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore and infielder JT Riddle, who is on the disabled list. Moore started and had two hits Wednesday.