The Washington Times - September 19, 2013, 03:30PM

The Washington Nationals’ last-ditch effort to sneak into the second wild card spot were dealt a significant blow on Wednesday night when they lost to the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros in 13 innings.

The Nationals welcome the Miami Marlins to Nationals Park for the final home series of the regular season on Thursday night sitting 5.5 games out of that final playoff spot. The Reds magic number to clinch it is 5 — meaning any combination of their own wins and Nationals losses will seal it for them. So, the Nationals simply have to win.

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They’ll try to do that on Thursday by sending Gio Gonzalez to the mound on regular rest, but not when he originally expected to pitch. The Nationals scratched Stephen Strasburg from this start on Wednesday when the right-hander felt a recurrence of soreness in his forearm. The Nationals hope Strasburg will start on Saturday instead.

Here are the full lineups:

Nationals

Denard Span CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Bryce Harper LF
Ian Desmond SS
Adam LaRoche 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Anthony Rendon 2B
Gio Gonzalez P

Marlins

TBA