After failing to add to their best start in five seasons, the Miami Marlins will try to bounce back by ending their recent woes against the Washington Nationals.
Gio Gonzalez earned three of Washington's 14 victories over Miami in 2013 and will try to pick up another while building on a strong season debut Tuesday night.
Miami has lost 90 or more games in a franchise-worst three consecutive seasons and reached triple-digit defeats for the first time in 15 years in 2013. The Marlins had five wins in their first 24 games last year but reached that total after just six games this season.
That 5-1 start was their best since they were 11-1 in 2009, but it stopped Sunday in a 4-2 loss to San Diego. Miami held the Padres scoreless for the first six innings until Nathan Eovaldi gave up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has driven in at least one run in each game and is among the NL leaders with 12 RBIs while batting .345 with two homers. Casey McGehee is hitting .375 with 10 RBIs, and Adeiny Hechavarria is batting .393.
Miami (5-2) is hitting .294 this season after batting .231 in 2013.
"The goal is to try to win every series and we were able to do that," McGehee said. "Now we have to go on the road and try to keep the momentum going."
To accomplish that, the Marlins will need a better showing against Washington than they had last year. Miami won five of 19 matchups in 2013 and earned one win in 10 games at Nationals Park.
"I think it's a great test for us to kind of see where we are at," manager Mike Redmond told the team's official website. "We're facing a great ballclub. We're facing their best three pitchers. Hopefully we'll go out there and match up."
Gonzalez (1-0, 1.50 ERA) is the first of those hurlers, and he went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts against Miami last season, all at home. He's 4-2 with a 1.76 ERA in six career matchups.
Gonzalez gave up one run and three hits while striking out six over six innings in his first outing of the season, a 5-1 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday. The left-hander also hit his third career homer, a solo shot.
The Nationals won their first three games before dropping two of three to Atlanta. They avoided the sweep with a 2-1 win Sunday as Ian Desmond provided the tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning.
Ryan Zimmerman sat out the game with inflammation in his right shoulder but an MRI showed no "structural issues," according to manager Matt Williams. He was expected to re-evaulated Tuesday.
"The issue he's got is probably throwing overload,' Williams said Sunday. "He throws a lot, and he works at it really hard, so it may be a little overload at this point."
Henderson Alvarez will try to rebound from a rough first start as he faces that potentially short-handed lineup. The right-hander lasted three-plus innings and gave up six runs - three earned - in a 6-5 loss to Colorado on Wednesday.
Alvarez has gone 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA in four career matchups with Washington, including three last year. Bryce Harper, 3 for 21 on the season, is 5 for 10 with two home runs against him.
Stanton is 1 for 10 with four strikeouts in his career against Gonzalez.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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