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MIA@ATL: Fernandez strikes out eight over six frames

The Nationals faced the Marlins in a three-game series in Washington last week, but they missed having to face Miami ace Jose Fernandez. On Friday the Nats won't be so fortunate at a time when they're trying to stay in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot.

Fernandez will be on the mound for the Marlins as they open a seven-game homestand, with Dan Haren starting for the Nationals. The Nats will be one of the last teams to face Fernandez this season, as the 21-year-old right-hander is nearing his innings limit.

Miami will shut down Fernandez after 12 more frames spread over his next two starts. That would put him at 170 2/3 innings in 2013.

"It was kind of the unknown at the beginning of the season, how he would do and how he would perform," manager Mike Redmond said of Fernandez's limit. "We were looking at ways to protect him, based on how many innings he had gone before. That's the number we came up with."

Fernandez is 10-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 26 starts, and he has 173 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings. He is coming off a tough loss to the Braves. He allowed only two runs on three hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts over six innings, but he couldn't get enough run support from the Marlins' offense.

Fernandez has allowed two earned runs or fewer in his last nine starts, and three of those were scoreless outings. He had a Major League-best .158 opponents' batting average in August, earning him the NL Rookie of the Month Award.

Making this game even tougher for the Nats is that it's coming at Marlins Park, where Fernandez is 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA this season.

Whereas Fernandez has been superb, Haren has struggled in his recent starts. He's allowed 11 earned runs in his last two outings and lasted only 2 2/3 innings against the Mets on Saturday, giving up seven runs on nine hits.

Despite the difficult outing, Haren didn't feel as though his stuff was as bad as the results indicate.

"It seemed like everything they put in play was a hit," Haren said. "Literally, almost everything they put in play was a hit. Can't go out there striking out everybody. That's baseball. I've had a good stretch. Maybe I've had a little bit of luck. Today was just one of those days."

Nationals: Rested Harper should be back
Manager Davey Johnson kept left fielder Bryce Harper out of the lineup on Wednesday after Harper acknowledged that his left hip is still hurting. Harper received treatment on the hip earlier in the day.

Johnson wants to give Harper consecutive days to rest, with an off-day coming on Thursday. Harper does not plan to undergo an MRI.

• Johnson announced on Wednesday that right-hander Tanner Roark will make his first Major League start on Saturday in place of veteran righty Ross Ohlendorf. Roark has gone 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA in nine relief appearances since arriving from Triple-A Syracuse, where he made 11 starts.

Marlins: Yelich heads home hot at the plate
Christian Yelich went 1-for-5 in the Marlins' 9-7 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday, capping a torrid road trip for the young left fielder.

The 21-year-old went 14-for-32 during Miami's nine-game road trip. Wednesday broke a string of three straight multihit games for Yelich, who was 8-for-12 with three RBIs in that span.

• When the Marlins begin their homestand on Friday, it'll be the first game of an arduous stretch. Miami will play 21 games in 20 days, including a doubleheader in New York on Sept. 14. The Marlins' next day off doesn't come until Sept. 26.

Worth noting
• Miami's Adeiny Hechavarria went 3-for-4 with a grand slam on Wednesday, and he now has 10 hits in his last 31 at-bats.

• Denard Span's 17-game hitting streak is the longest active streak in the Majors and the longest by a Nationals player this season. Comments