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Marlins To Take On The Nationals In 3-Game Opener

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Any list of the most disappointing teams this season has to include the Washington Nationals, who squandered an opportunity to get back into the race in the National League East over the last week.
The Nationals will try to pick up the pieces when they head to Miami for the opener of a three-game series against the lowly Marlins on Friday.

Washington blew the lead in all three games while being swept by the first-place New York Mets this week, and manager Matt Williams made a series of questionable decisions with his bullpen and his offense that led to the odd scene of him being booed by fans after a press conference.

MVP candidate Bryce Harper homered twice, doubled and scored three times on Wednesday only to watch his bullpen squander the lead again as the Nationals fell seven games behind the Mets entering play on Thursday.

The Marlins are winners of seven of their last nine games since dropping a series at Washington last month and have pulled away from Atlanta and Philadelphia in the battle to avoid the NL East basement. The Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez to the mound on Friday while the Marlins counter with righty Jarred Cosart.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (10-7, 3.96 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jarred Cosart (1-4, 5.04)

Washington could use some length out of Gonzalez after the way the bullpen performed earlier this week, but he has not recorded an out in the seventh inning of any of his last five starts. The Florida native was sharp over six scoreless frames on Saturday against Atlanta, striking out 10 and allowing two hits while walking four in a win. Gonzalez started at Miami on Apr. 26 and was lit up for six runs on 10 hits in five innings to suffer the loss.
Cosart made his return after missing two months with vertigo and an inner-ear condition and held the Mets to one run and five hits in 4 2/3 innings on Sunday. The 25-year-old has gone more than six innings once in 10 appearances (nine starts) this season. Cosart is looking for his first win against the Nationals and is 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA in three career starts against the division rivals.

1. Nationals 1B/OF Clint Robinson could miss the series with his wife expecting their first child any day.
2. Miami OF Ichiro Suzuki, who needs 73 hits to reach 3,000 for his career, is 0-for-13 in his last six games.3. Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman (oblique) sat out the last two games and is day-to-day.

PREDICTION: Marlins 6, Nationals 4

SportsDirect Inc. contributed to this report.

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