WASHINGTON DC (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – There has been one consistent bright spot in the Miami Marlins abysmal season.
Dee Gordon has provided a steady brightness in an otherwise dark season of unfulfilled expectations for the Marlins.
Gordon has leaped past Bryce Harper and back into the lead for the National League batting title, and the two will share the same field Sunday when the Marlins wrap up a three-game series at Washington, which has more in its sights than individual awards.
Saturday's 5-1 victory pulled the Nationals within 5 ½ games of the first-place Mets in the NL East, and while Harper's nine-game hitting streak ended, Washington's offense produced yet again.
The Nationals have averaged 5.8 runs per game while going 7-4 in their past 11 contests.
Ryan Zimmerman's solo homer extended his streak of consecutive games with a RBI to six, and Anthony Rendon extended his hitting streak to seven games with a pair of hits and is batting .423 during that stretch with seven RBIs.
Gordon's two hits Saturday pushed his average to .333, one point ahead of Harper, and the Miami second baseman leads baseball in batting average with two outs at .424.
TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Brad Hand (4-3, 4.23 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.14)
Hand returned to the Miami rotation Aug. 4 following Dan Haren's departure at the trade deadline, and the 25-year-old has responded with four solid efforts in five starts.
He gave up two runs on nine hits in eight innings to beat Pittsburgh on Tuesday, five days after holding Philadelphia to one run on four hits in six frames to earn the victory.
Hand, who is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA this month, is 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA in eight starts in 2015.
Strasburg has done his part to keep the Nationals in the race since returning from the disabled list Aug. 8, going 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 26 innings.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2009 endured a difficult first four months, going 5-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 13 starts while spending two separate stints on the disabled list for neck tightness and a left oblique strain.
Strasburg, whose 242 strikeouts last season led the NL, has lost both his starts against the Marlins this season, surrendering six runs in nine innings.
- Miami's pitching staff, which recorded a 2.79 ERA in July (67 earned runs in 216 innings), has posted a 5.01 ERA through 17 games in August (132 earned runs in 237 innings).
- Nationals SS Ian Desmond collected two hits Saturday, raising his average to .311 since July 20.3. Miami RF Ichiro Suzuki has 2,924 major-league hits after going 1-for-4 Saturday; he trails Al Simmons by three hits for 37th place on the all-time list.
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