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PIT@WSH: Cole beats Nationals with pitching, hitting

Sunday probably won't be the last time Gerrit Cole and Jose Fernandez go toe-to-toe. Two of baseball's rising stars -- whose clubs are hoping the two righties have long, prosperous careers -- will take the mound in Miami.

Cole, the first overall pick by the Pirates in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, and Fernandez, a Cuban defector and the 14th selection in that Draft, were ranked ninth and seventh, respectively, on MLB.com's preseason Top 100 Prospects list. But both have now found a home in the big leagues, and Fernandez doesn't feel any added pressure when facing a peer like Cole.

"Not at all," Fernandez said. "If I was in high school, maybe. But I'm in the big leagues, and everybody here is good, trying to do a good job. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can -- I don't care who I'm pitching against."

Cole has made six of his eight starts at home, but has been dominant in his pair of outings away from PNC Park. The UCLA product has allowed six hits, three earned runs, two walks with nine strikeouts over 13 1/3 innings, picking up wins in both road starts.

"Conviction and command -- both very solid," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Cole's last outing, when the righty allowed two hits and one run over seven innings against the Nationals.

"Short innings. All three of his pitches were working," Hurdle said. "The fastball jumped from 92 to 98 [mph]. Good angles to the breaking ball. Stuff played well -- and hitters he did get behind, he still got them out."

Fernandez, the youngest All-Star in Marlins history, tossed seven innings Tuesday, surrendering two runs, two walks and five hits with eight strikeouts in a win at Colorado. He didn't appear to be bothered by any extended rest from the All-Star Game -- 10 days between starts --- and he looks to keep the Marlins' pitching staff on track.

Marlins pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in 30 of their last 35 games. That dates back to June 16, and the club ranks third in ERA in baseball during that time.

"I love the energy that he brings. I love the way he competes. This guy is game-on when he competes," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of Fernandez. "When that bell rings, this guy is game-on. As a former player, that's all you can ask of any teammate, is when that bell rings, are you ready to go? He's ready to go."

Marlins: Fernandez first All-Star from 2011 Draft
• Fernandez has enjoyed plenty of success in his first big league season, and he showed the baseball world during the Midsummer Classic what his future may hold. He struck out Chris Davis and Dustin Pedroia, and got Miguel Cabrera to pop out in his one inning of work.

But Fernandez understands that a few things had to fall his way for him to become the first All-Star from the 2011 Draft.

"It doesn't mean I'm better than them or they're better than me," he said. "Things happened at the right time for me. God is up there in the sky and things worked out for me."

• Jake Marisnick started his career 0-for-14 before singling in the sixth inning on Friday. That was the longest drought by a position player to start a career in Marlins history.

Pirates: Martin sits with minor knee injury
• Catcher Russell Martin exited in the seventh inning of Friday night's loss with a "tweaked" knee, and he didn't play Saturday. Michael McKenry started in his place and batted sixth. McKenry went 4-for-5, but he also injured his knee in the seventh inning after sliding to break up a double play. He grounded out in the ninth and had a tough time getting to first.

Martin said Friday he wouldn't go on the disabled list and noted it was nothing serious, just a minor tweak. The Pirates expect him back Sunday.

"The plan is to see how he feels," Hurdle said. "But we plan on playing him [Sunday]."

Martin has thrown out 25 of 50 runners, the most in the league and tied for the third best stolen base percentage among catchers. Last year, Pirates backstops Rod Barajas and McKenry threw out just 19 runners and allowed 154 steals.

• Wandy Rodriguez threw long toss Friday and said he felt good, and was scheduled to throw again Saturday. He's been on the DL since June 11 with tightness in his left forearm.

Worth noting:
• The Pirates had three hits with runners in scoring position in the first inning Saturday. They hadn't had three in a game since July 10, and ranked last in baseball in average with runners in scoring position (.219) entering Saturday. The Bucs went 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the 7-4 win over the Marlins.

• Prior to Saturday, Marlins starters had gone at least six innings and given up two runs or fewer in six straight starts, but Tom Koehler was roughed up by the Pirates for five runs and nine hits.

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