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Sanchez throws five scoreless innnings vs. the Mets

The Nationals and Marlins will both get back to business on Tuesday, fresh off an off-day to contemplate an opening series gone wrong. Washington will send veteran Jason Marquis to the mound in the series opener, and Florida will counter with Anibal Sanchez, a pitcher coming off a successful season who has a track record against his opponent.

Sanchez has gone 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 13 career starts against the Nationals, a run that includes a 2-0 record and a 1.05 mark last season. The right-hander went 13-12 with a 3.55 ERA in 2010, establishing career highs in virtually every category and proving that he could pitch a full year after shoulder woes had limited him for much of the previous seasons.

Marquis, meanwhile, had the opposite kind of season. The right-hander had been durable enough to make at least 28 starts in six straight seasons heading into 2010, but he tried to pitch through an elbow injury to disastrous effect. Marquis struggled for much of April and wound up missing nearly three months of the season after undergoing an operation.

"The elbow started hurting during Spring Training," Marquis said. "I probably did further damage to the team and tried to gut it out, but I would hope a lot of guys in my position would do the same. I love the game. I love to pitch. I want to be part of a team that wins. I took the gamble and it didn't work out. ... I thought I wasn't going to cause any more damage by pitching.

"So I figured maybe if I get through this, it would be smooth sailing. But like I said, it didn't work out. What happened, happened. I don't regret anything. I live and stand by all my decisions. I'm looking forward to a new year."

Marquis pitched to a 2-9 record and a career-worst 6.60 ERA last season, but much of the damage was inflicted in three ineffective April outings. The 32-year-old logged a 4.29 ERA after returning from the disabled list, and he's hoping to prove that he can be effective again. Marquis, for his career, has a 96-92 record and a 4.56 ERA in 303 appearances.

"Last year, I wanted to prove to the organization and myself that the injury was not going to derail me," Marquis said. "I felt like I threw the ball real well at the end of the season. I wanted to get the mental confidence back. It really wasn't the physical side. I knew that would come because of the preparation, hard work, the team trainers and the physical therapist that I use."

Nationals: It starts at the top
If Washington is going to rebound from its season-opening series loss at the hands of the Braves, it will need to get more out of the top of the batting order. Leadoff man Ian Desmond has gone 0-for-13 with three strikeouts and zero walks in the first three games, but Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have both produced from the second and third spots in the lineup.

Cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche is another notable absentee in the first three games, batting .111, with eight men left on base in Sunday's game alone.

Marlins: Starters look to capitalize on off-day
The Marlins hope to get right fielder Mike Stanton and third baseman Donnie Murphy back from assorted injuries and into Tuesday's starting lineup. Stanton has been slowed by a left hamstring injury, while Murphy has a bruised right hand. Emilio Bonifacio has seen time replacing both players, and he even played in center field in the opening weekend.

"He can go all over the place," said infield coach Perry Hill of Bonfacio's versatility. "He's an above-average defender anywhere you put him. He can do everything. ... I think he enjoys it. Every day he comes to the park, it's something new.

"He doesn't know where he's going to be and he embraces the challenge. He's a consummate team player."

Worth noting
Washington's Livan Hernandez and Florida's Chris Volstad are slated to pitch the second game of the series, and John Lannan will be matched against Marlins ace Josh Johnson in the series finale. ... The Nationals have been held to two runs or fewer in two of their first three games. ...The Marlins made three errors and allowed five unearned runs in Sunday's series finale against the Mets. ... Florida went 13-5 against Washington last season. ... Rick Ankiel is batting .111 with three strikeouts in nine at-bats. Comments