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Nationals' Thursday Night Lineup vs The Marlins: Gio Gonzalez vs The Fish

The Washington Nationals start a four-game set with the Miami Marlins tonight with Gio Gonzalez on the mound in Nationals Park against Fish right-hander Henderson Alvarez. The Nats have won all six games with the Marlins in the nation's capital this season...

Greg Fiume

If the Miami Marlins were looking for any additional motivation coming into the final series of the year with their NL East rivals from Washington this week in Nationals Park, they might have found bulletin-board-worthy material in Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson's comments a few games back when he talked about the chances of a second straight postseason appearance as the last week and a half of the 2013 campaign play out. "There's so much of the season left," Johnson said, "Cincy's got Pittsburgh, six games. We've got our pretty tough schedule after the [Miami] Marlins come in. I said before, we need to win about 90 games. If we win 90 games I think we've got a dang good shot of getting in there."

"We just can't afford to lose. It's that simple. We just need to get back at it tomorrow." - Davey Johnson after Nats' 71st loss

That "after the Marlins come in" part might rub the Fish the wrong way. The Nationals are 11-4 against the Marlins so far this season and 6-0 against them in the nation's capital. The Nats swept the first series of the season vs the Fish, then beat them in three straight again in late August. The Marlins (56-96) are 3-12 in their last 15 games and they're 2-5 on their last road trip of the season which wraps up with four in D.C. this (long) weekend. A win in any of the four could give the Marlins at least a measure of revenge against the Nats who have dominated them all season long. With their chances of catching Cincinnati for the second Wild Card already slim, a loss at this point would be devastating for the Nationals.

"We just can't afford to lose. It's that simple," Johnson said after last night's loss to the Braves. "We just need to get back at it tomorrow." The Nationals were supposed to have Stephen Strasburg going today after he was scratched last Friday night, but the Nats' skipper told reporters last night that he'd made the decision to scratch the right-hander again and push him back to this Saturday in the third game of four with the Fish. Instead it will be Gio Gonzalez vs the Marlins tonight.

Gonzalez is (3-2) in five career starts against Miami before tonight with a 1.54 ERA, 8 walks(2.06 BB/9), 41 Ks (10.54 K/9) and a 0.80 WHIP in 35 IP against the Marlins. Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Gonzalez tonight in the nation's capital:

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