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09/18/11 1:57 PM ET

Nats continuing trend of steady improvement

WASHINGTON -- After finishing three consecutive seasons in the basement of the National League East, the Nationals are poised for a third-place finish in 2011.

With 11 games remaining, they already have two more wins than their total from a season ago, which was 10 better than the dismal 59 victories that they recorded in 2009.

One more victory at Nationals Park will set a single-season mark for home wins since the team moved to Washington.

Slow going perhaps, but growth is indeed taking place and it is indeed worth noting.

"It shows progress, and that's what we're looking for," Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard said. "In this game, things didn't usually happen overnight. It's a process.

"As long as you're moving in the right direction, you're making progress. That's what this organization has been doing the past three years. It's fun to be a part of it and I think everyone is getting excited."

While a losing close to the season would not wipe out the advancements already made, continuing to build on said progress can provide a catalyst for what lies ahead.

"It gives us something to play for," Clippard said of the stretch run, which includes games against playoff contenders Philadelphia and Atlanta. "I know we won 10 more games last year than the season before. If we can get close to that number this season, the sky's the limit after that."

Nats haven't held their ground at home vs. Fish

WASHINGTON -- Call it dominance or call it fluky, but the Washington Nationals have not exactly protected their house when the Florida Marlins have come knocking.

After losing the first two games of the current three-game series, the Nationals have dropped seven of eight against the Marlins at Nationals Park. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Florida is 14-3 at Washington's home venue and 26-8 all-time.

With a win on Sunday -- which would run their current streak to six straight victories overall against the Nationals -- the Marlins will earn their seventh three-game sweep since the Washington franchise moved to the nation's capital.

Care to explain the one-sidedness, Tyler Clippard?

"I think it's really just coincidental, nothing you can put a finger on," the Nationals reliever said. "That particular day they were better. It's weird how it works out sometimes."

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.