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PHI@MIA: Eovaldi allows one earned over six frames

Two NL East rivals, separated by just half a game in the standings, will square off for a three-game series at Nationals Park on Monday afternoon.

‬This will be the third matchup of the year between the second-place Marlins and third-place Nationals. The Marlins lead the all-time series, 93-75, but Washington has owned Miami of late, winning five of the six meetings this year and 12 of 13 at home going back through 2013.

The Marlins -- who lost Sunday, 7-1, to Milwaukee -- will tab righty Nathan Eovaldi for the opener. He will face the Nationals for the first time this year, hoping to change his recent fate against Washington. Lifetime, he is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA against Washington. He is also 6-10 with a 4.09 ERA lifetime on the road.

Similarly, for all the Marlins' success at home (they own the best home record in the Majors), they have experienced the exact opposite as visitors. Away from Marlins Park, they are just 6-17.

Right-handers Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.21 ERA) and Tom Koehler (4-4, 3.10) will follow Eovaldi in the rotation against the Nationals. Washington, as with the rest of the teams this year, will not have to face Miami ace Jose Fernandez, who recently had season-ending Tommy John surgery.

The Nationals, who salvaged the finale of a four-game set against the Pirates on Sunday, will look to continue their success against Miami with righty Tanner Roark. He will face the Marlins for the fifth time in his career, going 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA against them.

Over his past three starts, Roark is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 11 strikeouts. In his latest outing, though, Roark accounted for both runs, one earned, in a 2-1 loss to the Reds at Nationals Park.

Roark lasted six innings and allowed six hits while pitching around a 61-minute rain delay. The Nationals were ahead, 1-0, when Cincinnati scored its two runs in the fourth inning.

"I was getting behind hitters. I wasn't really pitching to contact; I was nibbling a little bit," Roark said of the fourth inning. He will try to be more aggressive in the zone come Monday.

The Nationals' lineup will remain bolstered with Sunday's addition of Adam LaRoche after the left-handed hitter returned to the roster from the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain. He went 1-for-4 back in the cleanup spot.

Nationals: Desmond catching fire
‬‬‬‬‬It appears Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is getting hot with the bat. In his past 10 games, Desmond is hitting .300 with four home runs and seven RBIs.

Despite a slow start to May, Desmond never expressed concern about his batting average. He said he would no longer panic as he did earlier in his career. In the past, he would change his hitting mechanics.

"I haven't been doing anything differently," Desmond said. "I'm just hitting the ball. As I've gotten older, I realize [slumps] are part of the game. You go through stuff like that. In the past, I've panicked. I would make drastic changes. Now, it's just trusting in my [plan] and realizing what I can bring. I've done it. Now it's about me staying consistent."

Marlins: Narrowing their focus
‬‬‬‬‬The Marlins' approach to one of the most spacious stadiums in the big leagues, as outlined by Garrett Jones, is to think small and see if bigger things happen.

"I think we're a better team when we think doubles in the gap, line drives up the middle, and keeping our line-drive approach," first baseman Garrett Jones said. "We're going to do more damage that way and score more runs that way than trying to hit home runs every time."

The Marlins have indeed hit their share of home runs at home, in a vast contrast from 2013, when the club struggled for runs in general. A year ago, Miami hit just 36 home runs at home, and 95 overall. The club is averaging one a game this year.

Worth noting
‬‬‬‬‬ ‪• LaRoche has hit Eovaldi well. In eight at-bats he has four hits off the righty with two RBIs.

‬‬‬‬‬ ‪• The Nationals are 20-1 when scoring four or more runs and, conversely, just 4-24 when limited to three or fewer runs by opposing pitchers.

‬‬‬‬‬ ‪• Miami came away with its 10th one-run win of the season on Saturday, downing Milwaukee, 2-1. Comments