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Nats begin stretch against NL East foes with visit from Marlins

(Sports Network) - While it is probably too late to make a push for the National League East crown, an upcoming favorable schedule could vault the Washington Nationals into the playoff picture.

The Nats begin a span of 26 straight divisional games on Tuesday night with the first of three straight meetings versus the Miami Marlins.

Washington enters this series even on the season at 65-65, putting it 13 games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Nats are a more manageable eight games back of the league's second wild card position.

The Nationals may still have a run left in them as the first 19 games of this NL East-only stretch are against the Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. All three of those teams are under .500.

Washington wrapped a 6-4 road trip on Sunday with a loss to Kansas City, snapping a five-game winning streak. The Nats got homers from Denard Span, Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper to erase a four-run deficit, but the Royals plated the deciding runs in the eighth inning.

"We played so well, so many good things happened in that game to let that last inning ruin it, ruin the rest of the trip. We've been playing better and we're showing signs," said Desmond.

Getting the start tonight for the Nationals is Ross Ohlendorf, who is set to make his 12th appearance and fourth start of the season.

In his first MLB action in almost a month due to right shoulder inflammation, the righty did not factor into an 11-6 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Ohlendorf yielded four runs on six hits and two walks, also allowing two homers over his 4 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.58 earned run average this season and 1-4 with a 4.78 ERA lifetime versus the Marlins in six games, including five starts.

While the Nats return home, the Marlins hit the road for nine in a row following a disappointing 3-7 residency. They concluded the trip with Sunday's 4-3 loss to Colorado, giving up the deciding run in the sixth inning.

Justin Ruggiano stroked a solo homer and finished with two RBI, while Jacob Turner was charged with four runs -- three earned -- on six hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings to absorb his fourth straight losing decision.

"We're not a team that's equipped to make a lot of mistakes, and when we do make mistakes they usually come back to haunt us and you saw that again today," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "That's why we came away with three wins on this homestand."

Nathan Eovaldi gets the call for the Marlins looking for his first victory since beating the Nationals on July 12.

Facing Washington for the first time, he gave up three runs over six innings, working around three hits and four walks.

Eovaldi has gone 0-4 in seven starts since and was pounded at home by San Francisco on Aug. 16. The 23-year-old righty was charged with 11 runs, all but two of those earned, on 12 hits and a walk in three innings of a 14-10 loss.

He then suffered his second defeat in a row on Wednesday, but pitched much better versus the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 4-1 decision. Eovaldi yielded three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and two walks in seven frames.

Still, he fell to 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 12 starts this season.

The Nationals have won six of nine versus the Marlins this season, including a three-game sweep in Washington to begin the season.

08/27 10:52:35 ET