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WSH@MIA: Strasburg fans seven over six strong frames

Nationals manager Davey Johnson understands that his team's chances of making the playoffs are slim to none. However, he's seen stranger things happen.

"I mean, when a club, all they have to do is win five or so games," Johnson said. "It means it's pretty easy to do. So, that means we have to win out and hope somebody slips."

The Marlins and Nationals squared off in the opener of a split doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, with Tom Koehler and Co. besting Dan Haren and his 'mates, 4-2. The second game of the twin bill at 7:05 p.m. ET will showcase Marlins rookie Brian Flynn and Nats ace Stephen Strasburg.

Flynn takes the hill in the nightcap, ready to showcase his 93-plus-mph fastball in his fourth start since being a September callup.

"Obviously, we heard a lot of great things about him," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "Now we get a chance to see him and what he brings. I think this is great experience for him to come up and get some starts. Probably just as much for him to get to see what he needs to do to be successful in this league. Also for us to see what he can do, and to see where he fits going forward."

Still looking for his first career victory, Flynn allowed six runs on 11 hits in six innings for the loss on Tuesday against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

As for Strasburg (7-9, 2.96 ERA), he's spent plenty of time off the rubber, last pitching on Sept. 8. He was supposed to pitch last Friday but was scratched and pushed back to Thursday. That plan changed once again when Strasburg had trouble getting loose and felt continuing tightness on Wednesday.

The fireballer got the go-ahead for Sunday's start after completing his pregame throwing without any problems on Friday.

"He's our No. 1 pitcher. Anything that goes on with No. 1 pitchers, high-draft pick, No. 1, there's just a lot of interest," Johnson said. "Same thing with [Bryce] Harper. Anything happens to him, everybody analyzes it every which way. It's just part of it."

Marlins: Team making fundamental plays
While the Marlins may be in last place in the NL East, they have thrived in minimizing unearned runs.

Miami has yielded just 43 on the season, which is tied with the Rangers for the 10th fewest by any MLB team.

"It's fundamentals," Marlins infield coach Perry Hill said. "Making the routine plays, and being in the right position. That's it."

Nationals: Rendon improving at second base
Previously a third baseman, 23-year-old Anthony Rendon is making progress as a rookie second baseman for the Nationals.

He took over for an injured and ineffective Danny Espinosa earlier this season and has now started 77 games at second for the Nats.

"I think he's been great," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "As a matter of fact, you forget that he wasn't always a second baseman, which I think is a really good sign. He just looks natural over there."

He's made nine errors there for a .974 fielding percentage, but FanGraphs.com's Ultimate Zone Rating has his contributions at 2.2 runs above average.

Worth noting
• Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has 56 RBIs in 72 games this season. Since coming off the disabled list on July 4, he's a team-best 25-for-72 (.347) with runners in scoring position.

• The Marlins have had 53 starts by rookie pitchers this season. Only the Brewers have had more games started by rookies with 58.

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