A favorable interleague stretch has allowed Detroit to build some momentum.
Brennan Boesch hit a three-run homer and Justin Verlander struck out 11 as Detroit (35-29) won its sixth consecutive interleague game, 8-3 over Washington on Wednesday.
After salvaging the finale of a three-game set at Dodger Stadium last month, the Tigers swept Pittsburgh last weekend and won the first two from the Nationals (31-35) to improve to 6-2 against NL opponents.
Detroit, which has outscored the Pirates and Nationals 29-15 during its current five-game winning stretch, tries for a sixth consecutive victory over the Nationals. Washington has lost four of five.
"I definitely feel like there's some momentum,'' Verlander said. "We're pitching well, hitting well and playing good defense. That's how you get on streaks."
After going 0 for 4 on Tuesday, Boesch had three hits and matched a season high with four RBIs. The rookie outfielder is 20 for 50 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 13 games.
Magglio Ordonez is 5 for 8 in the series, and 18 for 29 lifetime against the Nationals' franchise.
Detroit rookie outfielder Austin Jackson, however, is expected to miss a third straight game due to back spasms.
Jeremy Bonderman (2-4, 4.21 ERA) hopes to avoid a third straight loss in this contest. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.90 ERA during a four-start stretch. He allowed two runs and struck out six in seven innings of a 4-3, 10-inning win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
"I'm just trying to go out there and give us quality innings and hopefully we will find a way to win at the end," Bonderman told the Tigers' official website.
Though Bonderman is 7-7 with a 5.23 ERA in 22 interleague starts, he's 4-0 with a 4.04 ERA in his last eight. That included an 8-4 win at Washington on June 20, 2007, when he allowed three runs in five innings.
Bonderman's former Detroit teammate Ivan Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with an RBI on Wednesday for the Nationals, who've been held to 10 runs in their last four losses.
Batting .340 in 41 games, the 38-year-old Rodriguez is 3 for 8 in the series and 10 for 24 in his last six games.
Adam Dunn hit his 15th home run Wednesday - his only hit in seven at-bats this series. Three of his five career hits against Detroit have left the park.
Washington rookie Luis Atilano (5-3, 4.34) tries to avoid a third loss in a row Thursday.
The right-hander allowed six runs, including three homers, in five innings of his first interleague outing, a 7-2 loss at Cleveland on Friday. The defeat dropped Atilano to 4-1 with a 3.51 ERA in six road starts.
After going 3-0 with a 3.90 ERA in his first five starts, Atilano is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA in his last five.