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MIA@WSH: Strasburg fans six, limits Marlins over six

They won't be going to the playoffs, but they can both be proud of their season.

The D-backs and Nationals will meet this weekend for their final series of the regular season, and both teams can look back on a rich campaign that saw them compete for a Wild Card berth deep into the season. Washington, in fact, has the best record (30-15) of any big league team since Aug. 9.

Stephen Strasburg, shut down early last season, will make his final start of the year on Friday, and he'll be matched against southpaw Patrick Corbin in the series opener. Strasburg is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break, but he's 2-5 with a 4.68 mark on the road this year.

"I think for me, there's a lot of things that I've learned this year," Strasburg said after his last start. "A lot of improvements to be made. And I'm going to work harder than I did the last offseason, and that's all you can really do."

Corbin, an All-Star this season, ranks among the National League's top 10 in victories (14) and innings pitched (203 1/3), and he has more than three times as many strikeouts (171) as walks (52). However, he allowed 10 hits over just 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Rockies.

"It wasn't just Corbin," manager Kirk Gibson said after the game. "He just doesn't have a lot of life on his pitches right now."

Veteran right-handers Dan Haren and Brandon McCarthy will be matched up in Saturday's middle game, with left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley scheduled for the finale.

The D-backs have one of the game's streakiest hitters in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt carries a 16-game hitting streak into Friday night's series opener, and he's just the third Arizona player in history to have 35 homers and 35 doubles in the same season.

The Nationals have been fueled by a little bit more of a committee approach. Five of Washington's hitters have at least 20 home runs, and only two other big league teams (Toronto and Atlanta) have managed that this season. The Nationals have out-homered their opponents 24-9 since Sept. 7.

Nationals: Desmond in elite company
Shortstop Ian Desmond's 20-homer, 20-steal season marks just the third time a Washington player has managed that accomplishment. Desmond also did it last season, and Alfonso Soriano joined the rarified air of the 40-40 club in 2006.

"It's pretty cool," Desmond said. "It's definitely a blessing. I wasn't always headed down this road in my life, and I'm just fortunate and try to take every day as a blessing and just try to do the best I can every day."

With 20 home runs and 21 stolen bases, Desmond is one of eight big leaguers to go 20-20 this season.

D-backs: Towers supports Gibson
With the end of a middling season near, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said that he will recommend to ownership that Gibson return to the team next year.

"I know I'm under contract next year," Gibson said. "I expect to be back. I have not been told that I've been back. So we get to the end of the year and we take care of those type things I think."

Towers will also have several decisions to make regarding the rest of the team's coaching staff. Matt Williams (third base), Steve Sax (first base), Don Baylor (hitting), Turner Ward (asst. hitting), Charles Nagy (pitching coach), Alan Trammell (bench) and Glenn Sherlock (bullpen) each have contracts that will expire at the end of October.

"What's the strengths of our staff?" Towers said. "What's the weaknesses of our staff? Those will be things we talk about after the season. Do we have the right coaches to get the most out of those players or not?"

Worth noting
• The Nationals are 103-94 on the road in two-plus seasons under manager Davey Johnson.

• Despite getting swept by the Cardinals, Washington has won nine of its last 11 series.

• Arizona has played a franchise record 24 extra-inning games this season and is 16-8 in those circumstances.

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