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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, September 7th (All times Eastern)

Miami Marlins (61-77) at Washington Nationals (85-52), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Miami - Jacob Turner (0-2, 6.55) Washington - Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 2.94)

(Sports Network) - Washington starter Stephen Strasburg won't be pitching come October, but the way the Nationals are playing right now, they figure to be playing deep into the month.

Strasburg makes his penultimate start of the season on Friday night in the first of three straight meetings with the Miami Marlins.

The 24-year-old Strasburg returned late last year following Tommy John surgery near the end of the 2010 campaign, so the Nationals decided to put their ace on a strict innings limit for the coming season.

With Strasburg having thrown 156 1/3 innings over 27 starts, Washington declared following his last outing on Sunday versus the St. Louis Cardinals that Sept. 12 would be his final start of the season. That decision comes despite the fact that the Nats own a 7 1/2-game lead for first place in the NL East.

The right-handed Strasburg didn't look like a pitcher who needed to be shut down last weekend as he threw six scoreless frames, scattering two hits and striking out nine. He was, however, coming off a loss to the Marlins on Aug. 28 in which he was tagged for seven runs -- five earned -- on nine hits over five frames.

Shutting down Strasburg has been a big debate in baseball this season, but general manager Mike Rizzo is sticking to the plan.

"I don't think he is going to fight me on it," Rizzo told Washington's official website. "I know he will be unhappy about it. He is an ultra competitor. We have taken that out of his hands. This is a developmental decision and it ultimately falls on the doorstep on the general manager, and we made it five months ago and we are going to stick to it. ...

"The plan was in place. It couldn't have gone any better. He has pitched extremely well. A couple of more starts under his belt, it will lay a solid foundation for 2013, where he can take the ball, run with it and win a lot of games for us."

While Strasburg is expected to accept the decision, the Nationals as a whole showed some fight in Thursday's 9-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The benches cleared twice in the four-game set's finale, first in the fifth inning when Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk chirped from the dugout and engaged verbally with Nats third base coach Bo Porter after Washington's Jayson Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch with a five-run lead.

"Certainly a five-run lead at that time is nothing," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said about the incident. "If they want to quit competing and forfeit then fine, but we're not going to quit competing."

The benches emptied again the following inning after Cubs reliever Lendy Castillo threw behind Bryce Harper with the first pitch.

When all was said and done, Washington won its fifth straight and for the eighth time in nine games as Kurt Suzuki hit a three-run homer and Adam LaRoche added a two-run shot, his fourth straight game with a home run. He has gone deep six times in his last six games.

Jacob Turner will try to keep the Nats' offense in check tonight, something he failed to do for the Marlins on Aug. 29 in his most recent start.

The 21-year-old righty yielded five runs over five innings of a loss, giving up a pair of homers to Harper.

"I made mistakes and they capitalized them," Turner said. "I have to be more consistent."

Turner has lost both of his starts this year with the Marlins, giving up eight runs, 10 hits and three homers over 11 innings. One bright spot is that he has not walked a batter while striking out 11.

Turner went 1-1 in three starts this season with the Detroit Tigers before getting dealt to the Marlins and has yielded seven homers this season while notching a combined earned run average of 7.33.

The Marlins are coming off just their second victory in eight games following Thursday's 6-2 defeat of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Josh Johnson yielded a pair of runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings, striking out seven, while Donovan Solano had three hits, scored a run and drove in another.

"We worked hard to get after them there early on," Miami's Greg Dobbs said. "We got some big hits with some runners in scoring position and put some runs on the board early. That helped us out and it helped (Johnson)."

The Nationals have won five of their six home games versus the Marlins this season.

09/07 10:36:59 ET