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MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Marlins have been playing the spoiler role to perfection lately.

Max Scherzer attempts to end his misery and the Washington Nationals look to avoid a three-game sweep when they visit the red-hot Marlins on Sunday.

Scherzer, who signed a seven-year contract for $210 million in the offseason with the Nationals, is 2-6 in his last 13 starts and winless in the past seven as Washington continues to tumble out of realistic playoff contention.

The Nationals have dropped five straight since winning five in a row and have fallen 9 ½ games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East after Saturday’s 2-0 loss.

NL MVP candidate Bryce Harper is 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in the series for Washington, which is 6-0 all-time against Miami’s Sunday starter Brad Hand.

The Marlins are playing some of their best baseball of the season, allowing seven runs during a four-game win streak and winning nine of their last 11.

Martin Prado is 5-for-11 with four RBIs in the past four contests for Miami.

TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (11-11, 3.03 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Brad Hand (4-5, 5.20)

Scherzer has allowed 27 runs in 40 innings during his winless drought and is 1-4 since the All-Star break, but has gone at least six innings in 13 of his last 16 outings.

The 31-year-old Missouri native has given up 11 homers in his last six games, including three in the loss against the New York Mets on Monday.

Prado is 8-for-16 overall versus Scherzer, who owns a 2-1 record with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against Miami in 2015.

Hand has been knocked around for 12 runs in 6 1/3 innings combined his last two starts – one of them versus the Nationals — after winning three of his previous four outings.

The 25-year-old gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 frames against Washington in a 7-4 loss on Aug. 30.

Anthony Rendon is also 6-for-14 versus Hand, who is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA in 18 appearances (five starts) at home in 2015.

WALK-OFFS

  1. Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki has 2,930 career hits after recording three Saturday to tie Rogers Hornsby and Jake Beckley for 35th on the major league all-time list.
  2. Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman (oblique), who is 7-for-11 lifetime against Hand and boasts an 11-game hit streak overall, has missed four straight contests and remains questionable.
  3. Miami C J.T. Realmuto has two doubles and a pair of homers during a nine-game hitting streak.

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