Jordan Zimmermann has a good chance to finish with the most wins in the NL this season, but he would gladly trade those victories for the chance to return to the playoffs.
Given the Nationals sizable deficit in the NL wild-card race, that likely won't happen, but Zimmermann will try to boost the Nationals' faint hopes by earning his 19th victory Friday night against the Miami Marlins.
Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33 ERA) currently has sole possession of the NL victories lead, with St. Louis' Adam Wainwright his closest pursuer. Wainwright is not slated to build on his 17 victories until Monday, meaning the Nationals right-hander could take a two-game lead Friday.
Zimmermann will try to do that by improving to 4-0 this month. He allowed two runs over seven innings Sunday against Philadelphia and got some impressive support from his teammates in an 11-2 rout.
"It feels good, but then again, I'll trade all those wins in for a spot in the playoffs," Zimmermann told the team's website. "That's the only thing that matters right now."
The Nationals (82-71) need another strong start from Zimmermann as they're five games behind Cincinnati in the wild card with nine remaining. They've managed to keep their slim chances alive by winning 11 of 13, including a 3-2 victory in Thursday's series opener.
Bryce Harper accounted for the offense with a three-run, first-inning homer, but Denard Span had his MLB-best 29-game hit streak snapped.
"I like being in those pressure situations, crucial situations of playing for the wild card," Harper said. "All year long you try to play for the playoffs and try to go to the next round. Now it's getting to that point where we're turning it on and playing the game how we should have played it all year."
The Nationals are 7-0 at home versus the Marlins (56-97) this season and have won 12 of 16 between the teams. Zimmermann is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts against Miami in 2013, winning both in April.
The Marlins, losers in 11 of 14, will give Jacob Turner another attempt to snap a lengthy skid. The right-hander is 0-6 with a 4.60 ERA in his last 11 starts, but he had a solid outing Saturday against the New York Mets, giving up three runs over five innings in a 3-1 loss.
"I feel like that was probably the best I've thrown in a while, as far as making quality pitches," Turner told the team's website.
Turner (3-7, 3.51) was charged with five runs over four innings in a 6-4 defeat to Washington on Sept. 8. He's 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Nationals, his worst ERA versus any NL opponent.
Wilson Ramos went 3 for 3 with a home run against Turner in the win earlier this month and Ryan Zimmerman, batting .395 with four homers in his last nine games, had a solo shot.
Harper is 3 for 6 with two homers versus the right-hander.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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