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WASHINGTON DC (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Two teams playing very good baseball will begin a four game set in our nation’s capital.

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The calendar may not be on their side, but the Washington Nationals are intent on making one last run at a division title.

Winners of four in a row, the Nationals look to continue to cut into their sizable deficit in the National League East when they begin an 11-game homestand with the opener of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins on Thursday.

Bryce Harper belted four homers in the Nationals’ three-game sweep of lowly Philadelphia to move within 7 1/2 games of the first-place New York Mets with 17 contests remaining on their schedule.

The NL MVP candidate has gone deep nine times while collecting 13 RBIs in his last 12 games but is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Thursday starter Jarred Cosart.

Jayson Werth also launched four homers in the set versus his former team and is 5-for-8 (.625) against Cosart.

The Marlins’ postseason aspirations were done in a long time ago, but they posted their 11th win in 15 contests after taking two of three from the Mets.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN (Washington)

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PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Jarred Cosart (1-4, 4.58 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Tanner Roark (4-5, 4.38)

Cosart would love a repeat of his performance in his last meeting with Washington, as he scattered four hits over five scoreless innings in a no-decision on Friday.

The 25-year-old has permitted one run and nine hits in 9 2/3 frames since returning from a right inner ear disorder.

Cosart has struggled away from home, posting a 1-2 record with a gaudy 8.46 ERA while allowing a .295 batting average to the opposition.

Roark fell to 2-3 lifetime against the Marlins despite yielding two runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 2-0 setback on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has yet to complete the fifth frame in two starts since returning to the rotation.

Roark has pitched well at home, winning his two decisions and picking up a save while surrendering just four homers in 29 2/3 innings.

WALK-OFFS

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  1. Washington 2B Anthony Rendon (16-for-35, .457) and 3B Yunel Escobar (16-for-37, .432) are riding eight-game hitting streaks.
  2. Miami 2B Dee Gordon went 8-for-14 (.571) with four runs scored in the series versus New York to improve to 21-for-58 (.362) this month.
  3. Nationals 1B Clint Robinson is 8-for-20 (.400) with two RBIs and two runs scored in his last five contests.

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