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Marlins In D.C. For Series Against Division Rival Nationals

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSMiami/AP) – After a sluggish start to the season for both teams, an early May matchup between the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals could finally be as advertised.

Although the Marlins have won nine of 11 to recover from a dismal start, another losing streak could be on the way.

Jordan Zimmermann might be the pitcher best suited to again slow them, and visits with the Nationals haven't been kind to manager Mike Redmond's team.

The clubs begin a three-game series Monday night at Nationals Park, where Zimmermann will try for an encore of his no-hitter last fall.

Zimmermann (2-2, 4.88 ERA) is 7-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last 12 starts against the Marlins, including the one-walk effort in a 1-0 win Sept. 28 - the last time he encountered them at home. Zimmermann also faced them in a 3-2 loss in Miami on April 24, surrendering two runs and six hits in six innings without factoring into the decision.

In his one start since - Wednesday's 13-4 victory in Atlanta - he allowed three earned runs and eight hits, earning the win while completing seven innings for the first time this season.

Still, his ERA in five starts was his worst ever in April after entering the year with a 2.76 mark in 22 outings.

May has traditionally been his worst month - 8-11 with a 4.32 ERA over 28 starts - but he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in 17 home outings since April 9, 2014, going 8-3 with a 2.20 ERA in that span.

"I feel like I'm real close right now," Zimmermann told MLB's official website. "Once I get the slider and curveball working in the same game, I feel like I'll be right where I need to be. The fastball's coming back and I feel good. I'm just really close. Hopefully the next start I'll be there."

He'll be charged with extending Washington's 18-inning scoreless streak. Sunday's 1-0 road win over the New York Mets was the club's second straight by that score, and it hasn't posted three straight shutouts since May 1989 while the franchise was in Montreal.

Zimmermann's start in Miami was around the time the Marlins (12-13) began turning things around, but Sunday's 5-2 loss to Philadelphia ended a four-game winning streak and denied them from topping .500 for the first time since Aug. 22.

Even after a six-hit effort, they're batting an MLB-best .305 over a 9-2 stretch. The letdown, however, came with hot-hitting Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and J.T. Realmuto getting a day of rest before a 10-game trip - part of 13 straight days of play to open the month.

"I'd love to sit here and say we can play nine guys for 162 games, but that's not possible," Redmond said.

Gordon leads the majors with a .440 average and is 20 for 31 on an eight-game hitting streak that began with Miami sweeping three home games against the Nats from April 24-26.

The Marlins, however, are 4-15 in Washington since the start of 2013, despite Giancarlo Stanton's .336 average at Nationals Park trailing only his .358 mark at Coors Field. The slugger's 14 home runs there lead all visiting players, and he's homered there more than any other opposing ballpark.

David Phelps (1-0, 3.38) will try to help Stanton change those fortunes after posting a 1.53 ERA and .175 opponent average in three starts since joining the rotation April 17.

The right-hander allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the New York Mets but didn't factor into the decision. After walking five in 11 2-3 innings of his first two starts, he didn't issue a free pass to the Mets.

"(I'm) trusting my stuff and almost making them hit it," Phelps said. "We have amazing infield defense and our outfield can run down a lot of balls, too."

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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