There's something about the Miami Marlins that Tanner Roark can't seem to solve. They've beaten the Washington Nationals' starter three times already this season and have gotten to him more than any other team he's faced.
Facing Roark might be just what Giancarlo Stanton needs.
After a mediocre road trip – one that was downright bad for Stanton – the Marlins look to get back on track in the opener of a three-game set with the visiting Nationals on Friday night.
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Roark (2-3, 3.10 ERA) gave up seven earned runs and a homer over his previous six starts combined, then matched those numbers in five innings of Saturday's 7-1 loss to Miami in the second game of a doubleheader. Fourteen of the 17 earned runs he's allowed this season have come against the Marlins, who also beat him 6-4 on April 7 and 6-1 on April 18.
''I hope that team's not becoming a nemesis to him. Everybody has a couple teams they have some trouble with,'' manager Dusty Baker said. ''They hit him pretty hard.''
The right-hander has lost five straight starts against Miami with an 8.03 ERA as the Marlins have hit .404 off him on balls in play in that stretch.
''Pitching my game. I'm not going to change (when facing Miami),'' Roark said. ''I'm still going to attack the hitters and go after them.''
Stanton and Justin Bour have connected for the only homers hit off Roark in his 49 1/3 innings this season. Stanton, though, has struck out in his last seven at-bats, including four times in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Philadelphia.
He went 0 for 10 with nine strikeouts in the series, 4 for 28 on the seven-game trip and at one point smashed his bat in the dugout.
''I'm playing like (garbage),'' Stanton said. ''Can't do it no more. We're not going to be successful with zero production out of your cleanup guy.''
The Marlins (21-19) went 3-4 on their trip, including splitting a four-game set with the Nationals (25-16) last weekend. Manager Don Mattingly doesn't believe Stanton should shoulder the blame.
''He's one guy on our team,'' Mattingly said. ''Last two games probably were his worst at-bats of the season.''
Justin Nicolino started the first game of Saturday's doubleheader and will face the Nationals again in this one. Nicolino (2-1, 3.75) gave up four runs while walking a career-high five in 4 2/3 innings of a 6-4 loss in the shortest of his four starts this season.
''I kind of was all over the place,'' Nicolino said. ''That's a good-hitting lineup and you definitely don't want to make mistakes to them, but to walk three guys to start the game, that's even worse than making mistakes.''
The left-hander gave up seven runs in a loss to the Nationals in September, and Jayson Werth is 3 for 5 lifetime off Nicolino. Werth didn't have a hit Thursday, but Anthony Rendon went 3 for 4 and Daniel Murphy hit a two-run homer in a 9-1 win over the New York Mets.
Murphy raised his average to .397 for the Nationals, who scored 16 runs to win the final two of the series after scoring twice during a three-game skid.