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Bryce Harper is doing his best to give the Washington Nationals hope in the race for the National League East title with five homers in his last six games.
Harper looks to add to his NL MVP resume and help the Nationals win for the seventh time in eight contests when they host the Miami Marlins on Sunday in the finale of their four-game series.
Harper belted his NL-best 41st homer Saturday in a 5-2 victory and is 11-for-23 with 10 RBIs during his torrid six-game stretch as Washington has pulled within seven games of the New York Mets in the NL East.
The Nationals (77-71) play their next 11 contests against teams under .500 before ending the regular season with three against the Mets on the road.
The Marlins have been a tough out of late, winning 12 of their last 18.
Dee Gordon is 12-for-26 with five RBIs during a six-game hitting streak and slugger Justin Bour is 9-for-20 with a pair of homers and eight RBIs in his last five contests for Miami.
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PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (9-7, 3.98)
Nicolino is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in four appearances on the road during his rookie campaign.
The 23-year-old native of Orlando, Fla. recorded a quality start without factoring in the decision versus the Mets last time out but has served up five home runs in his last five outings.
Nicolino, who faces the Nationals for the first time in his career, has permitted two or fewer runs in five of his first nine major-league starts
Strasburg has been outstanding since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 8, allowing 13 runs over seven starts despite managing only a 4-2 record.
The San Diego native has recorded 27 strikeouts in his last two outings, including 14 in eight scoreless innings while yielding just one hit at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Bour is 4-for-10 with a homer versus Strasburg, who is 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA in three starts against Miami this season.
- Washington OF Jayson Werth has reached base in a career-high 28 straight games after drawing a pair of walks Saturday.
- Miami LF Christian Yelich has totaled 10 hits in 23 at-bats with six RBIs over his last five contests.
- Nationals SS Ian Desmond has registered four homers and 13 RBIs versus the Marlins this season – his most against any team in both categories.
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