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Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates weekend matchup, betting odds

The Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates will be looking for key wins in a potential playoff preview between NL contenders this weekend.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals are 7-1 in their last eight games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nationals will try to continue that recent dominance over the weekend when they continue a four-game series on the road against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Washington is listed as a -123 road favorite for Friday night's game according to sportsbooks monitored by Max Scherzer will start for the Nationals against Jeff Locke and the Pirates at +105.

After dropping two of three games to the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend, the Washington Nationals bounced back to take two out of three games against the New York Mets this week, before losing their series opener against Pittsburgh on Thursday. This has been a pretty consistent story for the Nationals, who have gone 9-10 in 19 games since winning eight straight back in June.

Help could be on the way soon for Washington as the team should get Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Denard Span and Stephen Strasburg back at some point in August.

Pittsburgh's win against the Nationals on Thursday snapped both a recent slump and a team slump against the Nationals. Before Thursday's win, Pittsburgh was 1-5 over its last six games overall and 0-7 over its last seven games against Washington, per the OddsShark MLB Database.

The Pirates' 1-5 skid came on the heels of an 11-2 hot streak, and Pittsburgh would love to get back on track and prove it can hang with the Nationals in this important weekend series.

Friday night's total for the Nationals vs. Pirates betting matchup is set at 6.5 runs at the sportsbooks. The UNDER is 10-6-1 in Washington's last 17 games and 4-3 in Pittsburgh's last seven games.

When healthy, Washington and Pittsburgh are two of the best teams in the National League and figure to be major contenders for the World Series. Pittsburgh is currently going off at 10/1 to win the World Series while the Nationals are going off at 8/1. These two teams could eventually meet in the playoffs which adds some intrigue to this head-to-head series.

Projected matchups over the weekend pit Gio Gonzalez against A.J. Burnett on Saturday, and Joe Ross against Gerrit Cole in the series finale on Sunday.