The Miami Marlins have an opportunity to head into the All-Star break riding their longest winning stretch in more than year.
Looking to win four in a row, the Marlins try to complete a home series sweep of the underachieving Washington Nationals on Sunday.Giancarlo Stanton hit a tying homer in the ninth inning and Ed Lucas beat out a potential double play at first base in the 10th to give Miami (35-57) a 2-1 win over Washington on Saturday."That's a double play in April," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "To win that thing on a fielder's choice, and a lot of good at-bats... it wasn't a thing of beauty, but I'll take it."The Marlins have followed a five-game skid with their fifth three-game win streak this season. A winner in 19 of 32, Miami last won four straight games June 27-July 1, 2012.It's only other sweep of at least three games this season came against the New York Mets at home May 31-June 2.Washington (47-47), meanwhile, is 1-5 on a seven-game trip and trying to avoid being swept on the road for the first time since Sept. 14-16 at Atlanta. The Nationals were also swept at Miami last year.Stanton has homered in consecutive games after hitting one in his previous 21 contests."I figured he wasn't going to throw a strike -- which that wasn't," Stanton said of the tying shot. "I just saw fastball and reacted to it."Miami's Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 5.73 ERA) will make his third straight start since he missed the first three months with shoulder inflammation. He allowed five runs and walked four in six innings of a 6-4 loss Tuesday in his second straight outing versus Atlanta."He came out in that first inning and he was lights-out," catcher Rob Brantly told the Marlins' official website. "He was competing and getting ahead in counts, making all his pitches, quality pitches. After that, I think we started nitpicking the zone too much. We started getting in hitters' counts."As long as we keep them on the defensive, I think we'll be all right."Pitching for Toronto last year, the right-hander gave up four runs on three homers, including one to Bryce Harper, in seven innings of a 4-2 loss against Washington.The reigning NL East champion Nationals have averaged 2.3 runs on the current trip to continue their disappointing season of mediocrity.Harper went 0 for 3 and scored the lone run Saturday, but was ejected for arguing a called third strike in the eighth."You can't do that," manager Davey Johnson said. "Take it out on the pitcher. You can't take the frustration out on the umpire."Harper will start Tuesday's All-Star game, but is 2 for 18 with six strikeouts in five games and hitting .196 (9 for 46) with one homer and six RBIs in July.Washington's Taylor Jordan (0-2, 3.45) tries a third time to earn his first major league victory Sunday. The right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-2 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday.