By David Dwork

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – With a few days still remaining in the month of August, the Miami Marlins have been working hard to climb back into the National League playoff race.

Led by slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who leads with majors with 50 home runs so far this season, Miami is now three games over .500 and within 4 ½ games of the second NL Wild Card Spot.

This is especially impressive considering the Marlins were 13 games below .500 in late May and trailed in the Wild Card race by double digits as recently as August 10.

Since then Miami has won 13 of their last 16 games, fueled mostly by an explosive offense and timely pitching from the bullpen.

During that span, the Marlins are scoring an impressive 5.56 runs per game.

To compare, the Houston Astros lead the majors in runs per game so far this season with 5.59. On the season, Miami is 14th in the league at 4.77 but that number has been steadily rising this month.

GAME INFO: First pitch 7:05 PM, Nationals Park

PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (12-5, 3.68 ERA) vs. Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (12-5, 2.25)

Urena has become the Marlins most consistent starting pitcher this season and is looking to end August with an unblemished record.

He’s logged three wins in four starts this month to go with a 2.95 ERA.

Urena has one previous start against the Nationals in his career which came on July 31.

He gave up just one run on three hits in eight innings while striking out six, but Miami lost the game 1-0 thanks to a gem tossed by Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.

Scherzer will be making his first start since August 13 after a brief stint on the disabled list due to neck tightness.

The NL Cy Young candidate comes into the game riding a 10-start unbeaten streak.

This will be the third time Scherzer has faced the Marlins in his last four starts overall.

During his career Scherzer has a 6-3 record and a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts against Miami.

ROUNDING THE BASES

  • Of Stanton’s 50 home runs, 23 of them have given the Marlins a lead. No NL player has done that since Albert Pujols in 2006.
  • After going 13 games without a stolen base, Miami second baseman Dee Gordon has swiped six bags in his last nine outings. He now has 46 on the season, trailing only Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton (54) for the major league lead.
  • Scherzer leads the National League with 220 strikeouts. He’s registered double-digit strikeouts 13 times this season.
  • Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 14 straight games, hitting .360 over that span with 5 home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 runs scored.
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