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Marlins Look For 2nd Win In Nationals Series

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(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (AP) — While Stephen Strasburg’s inning limit has become a widespread topic of debate, the Washington Nationals still appear ready to shut him down before season’s end.

For now, they’d surely love to see the 23-year-old phenom put his recent struggles behind him.

Strasburg takes the mound looking to snap a career-worst three-start losing streak as the visiting Nationals continue a four-game set with the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon.

In his first full season following Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has gone 9-4 with a 2.82 ERA while striking out 128 in 99 innings. That would leave the hard-throwing right-hander with about 60 innings left if NL-leading Washington (50-35) sticks to its plan.

“I’m a stubborn guy,” general manager Mike Rizzo told MLB’s official website. “We’re not going to change the direction that we think is best for the player and best for the franchise, so we’re going to do what’s best for the player.”

Strasburg doesn’t seem concerned about being limited down the stretch.

“I have no clue how many innings I’m going to throw this year,” said Strasburg, who threw a scoreless inning during Tuesday’s All-Star game. “I’ve answered that question multiple times, and nobody’s said anything to me. I feel great right now.”

Strasburg had a rough time in his final three starts before the break, losing each while compiling a 4.80 ERA. He gave up three runs on a pair of homers to Tyler Colvin over six innings of a 5-1 loss to Colorado on July 6.

“It’s not a good feeling, but what can you do?” he said. “You can only go out there and give it everything you have and try to keep the team in the ballgame, but sometimes it’s not going to work out.”

While Strasburg yielded a career-high six runs in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-2 loss to the Marlins on Aug. 10, 2010, he’s gone 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA in his other four outings against them.

He’ll look to help Washington bounce back from Saturday’s 2-1 loss. The Nationals, who went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, have hit .139 in RBI situations while losing four of five at Marlins Park.

Mark Buehrle threw seven strong innings to outduel Gio Gonzalez on Saturday while Carlos Lee and John Buck provided all the offense Miami would need with RBI singles.

“It was a must-win game against the team we are chasing,” said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose fourth-place club sits nine games behind Washington in the NL East.

Miami (42-45) now gives the ball to Ricky Nolasco (8-6, 4.35), who appears to have found his groove. The right-hander owns a 0.92 ERA over his last three outings and has won his last two.

He allowed an unearned run while scattering nine hits over six innings of a 3-2 victory at St. Louis on July 6, the last time he took the mound.

“We won that game because Ricky Nolasco pitched his (butt) off. He kept us in the game,” outfielder Logan Morrison said.

Nolasco is 8-2 with a 3.42 ERA in his last 13 starts versus Washington. He hasn’t, however, fared well against Ryan Zimmerman, who is 7 for 19 with three homers in their matchups since 2009.

The Marlins have won five of their last six home games.

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