WASHINGTON -- Among Mark Buehrle's goals this season is a feat he's accomplished in each of the last 11 seasons -- throw 200 innings.
After pitching seven innings in Saturday's 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Nationals, Buehrle sits at 180 2/3 innings this season. The 33-year-old left-hander says he expects to make three more starts this season, likely on Saturdays.
"It's going to be tough," Buehrle said. "Ozzie kind of said something about pulling me out in the sixth inning [on Saturday] and came over and asked me how I was doing. I said, 'I'm fine.' He said, 'You just want to get to 200 innings.' I said, 'You're [darn] right I do.'"
Buehrle added that while he would like to reach a milestone he has missed only once, in his rookie season with the White Sox in 2000, he wouldn't put a win in jeopardy or go longer than possible and leave the Marlins' bullpen to get out of a jam.
"To me, nowadays, 200 is that mark to get to," Buehrle said. "Fifty years ago, it was 400 innings. Obviously that's not happening nowadays. So to me, you're healthy, you're going out there deep into games, you're not getting your butt handed to you too much, because if you're not getting 200 innings or close to it, you're getting hit around a little bit too much and you're coming out of games early."
Despite the Marlins' disappointing season -- Saturday' loss officially eliminated them from winning the National League East -- Buehrle has enjoyed a decent season while staying mostly healthy. At 12-12, Buehrle leads Miami in wins, while his 3.74 ERA is also a team best.
With the Marlins' bullpen ERA of 4.15 ranking 23rd in baseball, Buehrle's average of more than six innings per start has been especially significant. It also set him on the course to once again reaching 200 innings.
"The deeper and deeper you go into games, the better chance you have to win games, the less the bullpen's coming in, the less innings they have to eat up," Buehrle said. "I think it's just everything. It's a good mark to try to get."
After his 2-for-4 day against the Nationals on Saturday, Donovan Solano entered Sunday hitting .361 (30-for-83) over his last 21 games. Solano scored two runs and drove in one on Saturday, boosting his totals over that span to 11 runs scored with nine RBIs. Of those 21 games, the 24-year-old rookie has notched at least one hit in 19 of them.
Though Heath Bell blew his seventh save of the season on Saturday -- tied for third most in baseball -- the right-hander has enjoyed a strong start to September. In five appearances this month, Bell has allowed only one run on two hits with eight strikeouts and one walk over 4 1/3 innings pitched. That one run came on the game-tying homer he allowed to Jayson Werth in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday.
After concluding their series with the Nationals on Sunday, the Marlins head to Philadelphia for a three-game set with the Phillies. That series will wrap up their first of two road trips remaining this season. Miami will head to New York and Atlanta for its last road trip of the season beginning on Sept. 21.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.