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Game Thread: Washington Nationals at Florida Marlins- 2008 Game 84 of 162.

The second biggest surprise in baseball out of Florida this season, the NL East's second-place Marlins welcome the Washington Nationals to Dolphin Stadium, in sunny Miami Gardens, Florida, on Dan Marino Blvd, for a three game series starting tonight at 7:10 pm EST...

On The Hill...

Tim Redding, (6-3, 4.05 ERA) the Washington Nationals' right-handed good-luck charm arm takes the mound for the 9th time in his 7-year career opposite the Marlins, against whom he's accumulated a (4-2) record with a 3.40 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched. Three of the nine starts have come this season, with Redding posting a (1-2) record, and allowing 14 hits, 17 runs, (10 earned), 2 HR's, and 7 walks, with 16 K's and a 5.87 ERA in 15.1 innings against the Marlins in '08.

Florida throws rookie right-hander Ryan Tucker, the Marlins 1st Round Pick, 34th Overall in the '05 Amateur Draft, who was called up in early June, and in his first 4 starts above Double-AA ball, has a (2-2) record with a high 6.75 ERA, 12 walks allowed and 15 K's collected over 20.0 innings. In his last start against The Tampa Rays, Tucker lasted just 4.0 innings, giving up 8 hits, 2 HR's and 7 ER's in a 15-3 Marlins' loss.

As for what Nationals' batters can expect from the Marlins' Marlins' writer Joe Frisaro covered Tucker's MLB debut in an article entitled, "Tucker first of the gang to start in the bigs", where Mr. Frisaro notes:

"...Tucker flashed a fastball that was regularly clocked between 92-95 mph. He had an impressive changeup, in the 81 mph range, and he struck out Jay Bruce with an 84 mph slider."

Nationals' #'s Against the Florida Marlins...

Jesus Flores - 10 for 28, .357 AVG, 4 2B, 6 RBI's.

Paul Lo Duca - 64 for 185, .346 AVG, 9 2B, 2 HR, 28 RBI's.

Ronnie Belliard - 57 for 199, .286 AVG, 10 2B, 5 HR's, 21 RBI's.

Cristian Guzman - 38 for 110, .345 AVG, 9 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 14 RBI's.

Wily Mo Pena - 21 for 69, .304 AVG, 3 2B, 5 HR's, 14 RBI's.

According to's Bill an article entitled, "Belliard's walk-off blast powers Nats", Sunday's Mr. Walk-Off Ronnie Belliard, who capped off a (4-5) 9-game homestand for DC when he hit a bottom of the ninth, two-strike, two-out blast, off Orioles' closer George Sherrill, told the assembled media after the game:

"'I was thinking 'Hit the ball as hard as I can,' Belliard said. 'If he gave me something to drive, I was just going to hit a fly ball or something. If it hits the wall, I would get a double, probably Dmitri [would score]. But thank God the ball went out of the park.'"

That pitch Belliard caught hold of was a slider from Sherrill, and Belliard watched it all the way into the stands in left, then trotted around the bases, to be greeted at home by his ecstatic teammates, who let Belliard tag home and then swarmed around him in celebration as the assorted Orioles' fans in attendace stood stunned in disbelief...

Who's watching the Washington Nationals?

The Nationals start the three game series with the Marlins at 7:10 pm. The Nationals have won three of their last four, following a four-game losing streak, but DC' lost five-straight to Florida, including a three-game sweep by the Marlins from May 9-11th, when Washington dropped three straight at home in DC...This time it's in Florida? Last time down south...The Nationals took the first of three, but then dropped two in a row during a mid-April road trip...Let's Play Ball...