Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins series primer

Slugger Giancarlo Stanton (center) and the Miami Marlins look to continue their recent hot streak when the Washington Nationals visit.

Troy Taormina

If the Miami Marlins (51-53) want to make up ground in the standings, there is no better time than this week’s homestand.

Miami hosts the National League-leading Washington Nationals (57-45) for a three-game set fresh off a record-setting roadtrip in which the club went 6-1 with series victories over the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.

The Marlins have won four in a row, including seven of eight, but still sit seven games behind the Nationals in the division and 5 1/2 back in the NL Wild Card. The Nationals are 6-3 in the second half having taken the first three series.

The only poor start from the Marlins’ trip was righty Nathan Eovaldi’s performance in Atlanta. He surrendered five runs in the first two innings but settled down with five scoreless. Eovaldi is 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in July. He beat the Nationals in Washington two months ago. Righty Jordan Zimmermann, meanwhile, went just five innings in his first start since sitting with a biceps strain. The All-Star is 1-0 with a 6.59 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season, allowing 11 runs on 21 hits in 13 innings.

Right-hander Henderson Alvarez pitched eight innings against the Atlanta Braves in his previous start, permitting just two runs on six hits. The All-Star has gone at least seven frames in three of his last five outings. Alvarez is 0-1 with a 0.84 ERA in two starts against the Nationals this year. Righty Stephen Strasburg has given up eight runs in 12 1/3 innings in two starts since the All-Star break. He is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts against the Marlins in 2014.

To close out the series, lefty Brad Hand looks to continue his recent hot streak on the mound. He tossed a career-high 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros, scattering three hits. Hand did struggle in two early-season outings against the Nationals, surrendering eight runs in 6 1/3 frames. In a solid rotation, righty Tanner Roark has been the most consistent in the No. 5 spot. Over his past three starts, he has gone seven innings and allowed one run for wins in each. Roark has given up three runs in both starts against the Marlins this season, going 0-1.

These clubs are meeting for the first time since late May when the Marlins won two games in Washington (the other contest was rained out). Miami trails the series 3-5 but has victories in three of the past four meetings.

Here’s a look at the upcoming Nationals-Marlins series…

Marlins must-see video

CF Denard Span (Nationals): Over the last 10 games, Span is batting .463 with eight runs and two RBI. His average has jumped from .269 to .288. In Cincinnati, he went 5 for 10. Span walked four times on Sunday against the Reds.

LF Christian Yelich (Marlins): Yelich went 4 for 12 (.333) with three runs, an RBI and three walks against the Astros, setting the tone in the leadoff spot. He has hits in eight of his last 10 games, which includes five multi-hit contests.

SS Ian Desmond (Nationals): Since going 5 for 5 at Coors Field last Monday, Desmond is just 4 for 20 with no runs and no RBI. During the weekend set in Cincinnati, he went 1 for 12 with five strikeouts and one walk.

RF Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins): After clearing the bases with a double on Saturday, Stanton struck out in six straight at-bats to close out the series in Houston. Over the past 10 games, he has fanned 15 times and walked on just five occasions with two homers and six RBI.

3.07: ERA for the Nationals pitching staff, best in the NL

7: Wins for Stephen Strasburg in his career against the Marlins, his most vs. an opponent

2.43: ERA for Brad Hand over five starts since rejoining the rotation

6: Career homers for slugger Giancarlo Stanton off Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann (three apiece)

"We went through a stretch where we had some struggles. Right now, our guys are going good and they’re feeding off each other. That was huge. That and some timely hitting, and here we are. We had a great roadtrip, winning six out of seven. It came at a perfect time and we hope to keep it going." — Manager Mike Redmond, to reporters in Houston, after a 6-1 trip

"I’m not trying to prove anything to myself. I know the type of stuff I have. I know the type of pitcher I am. At the same time, this is an opportunity for me to show them that I should stay in the rotation and keep going. Each game is huge for the team and myself." — Right-hander Jacob Turner, to reporters in Houston, about his first two starts back in the rotation

July 28 — South Florida Heroes Monday; All You Can Eat Special; Monday Madness group offer

July 29 — Half Price Tuesday

July 30 — Camp Day #2; Chevron Crazy 8’s Wednesday; Businessperson Special group offer

July 31-August 3 — Reds at Marlins

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.