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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, August 17 (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (64-59) at Washington Nationals (68-53), 5:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Edinson Volquez (10-7, 3.67) Washington - Doug Fister (12-3, 2.34)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Few pitchers have been better than Washington's Doug Fister over the last month and a half. He'll go after a 13th win on Sunday when Washington closes out a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park.

Fister won for the seventh time in eight decisions on Tuesday in New York, as he scattered seven hits over seven scoreless innings to run his record to 12-3, while lowering his ERA to 2.34.

"This is a team game," Fister said. "I can only do so much. I can only release the ball. After that, everybody else has control. That's what we do. We're a team here. That the kind of atmosphere, the kind of mentality [we have]. That's the precedent that we set."

It marked the 11th time in 17 starts that Fister has pitched at least seven innings.

On a staff that also includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, Fister has emerged as the team ace.

"I think on any given day, any of [of our pitchers] could be, but Doug just continues to go out there," manager Matt Williams said. "He is given the ball and does well. That's good for us. He has been throwing the ball really well."

Fister is 1-1 in three starts versus the Pirates with a 1.47 ERA.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will counter with righty Edinson Volquez, who is 10-7 with a 3.67 ERA. Volquez won his second straight start on Tuesday, as he held Detroit to a pair of runs and five hits in six innings.

"About time," said Volquez, who reached double-digits in wins for the first time since 2012 when he won 12 for San Diego. "It feels really good, and it's also a great win for the team."

Volquez has faced the Nats five times and is 2-2 against them with a 5.47 ERA.

On Saturday, Wilson Ramos hit a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Washington to a 4-3 comeback win.

The Nationals trailed 3-0 before scoring three runs in the eighth to tie it and another in the ninth to win it.

Bryce Harper worked a walk against Justin Wilson (3-3) to lead off the ninth, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when Ramos ripped a ground-rule double over the head of Gregory Polanco in right.

"We have a lot of heart," said Harper. "We are trying to keep rolling for the next month and a half and really do things the right way."

Matt Thornton (1-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to notch the victory.

Adam LaRoche smacked a game-tying, two-run homer in the eighth, while Kevin Frandsen went 3-for-4 with an RBI for Washington, which has won five straight and eight of its last 10 games.

Gaby Sanchez posted three hits and two RBI, Starling Marte tallied two hits, an RBI and a run scored and starter Jeff Locke struck out six and allowed four hits and two walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innnings for the Pirates, who have dropped four in a row.

"The fastball velocity was very good tonight," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Locke. "He pitched well."

Pittsburgh won three of four games versus the Nationals at PNC Park from May 22-25.

08/17 10:29:48 ET

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