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09/17/08 3:30 PM ET

2009 should be exciting for Nationals

Washington to start in Florida, face Phils in home opener

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' 2009 schedule was released by Major League Baseball on Wednesday and there are a lot of exciting series to look forward to.

Washington will start the season on the road as they take on the Marlins in a three-game series at Dolphin Stadium, starting on April 6. The Nationals return to D.C. for their home opener at Nationals Park against the Phillies on April 13.

The 81-game home slate features visits from all four of Washington's National League East rivals, including a three-game series against the Braves (April 20-22), a three-game series against the Phillies (May 15-17) and another three-game set against the Mets (June 5-7).

Washington can look forward to four-game visits from tradition-rich clubs such as the Cubs (July 16-19) and Cardinals (April 30-May 3).

Thanks to Interleague Play, the Nationals will face their natural rival, the Orioles, six times, with each club hosting three games.

The 2009 version of the Battle of the Beltways begins the weekend of May 22 with a three-game set at Nationals Park. Washington then visits Camden Yards for the first time during a three-game series from June 26-28.

Interleague Play includes three-game visits to Nationals Park from Toronto (June 19-21) and Boston (June 23-25). Both clubs, which find themselves in the pennant race this year, will make their first visits to Nationals Park.

The Nationals also go on the road to face two of the toughest teams in the American League East. Starting on June 12, Washington begins a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Three days later, the Nationals go to the new Yankee Stadium to face the Yankees. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the 2006 season.

Washington has 11 homestands on the docket, one of which will last 10 games (July 16-July 26) and includes series against the Cubs, Mets and Padres. For the third season in a row, the Nationals will conclude their season on the road against Atlanta on Oct. 4.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.