The Marlins won six of seven games during their most recent road trip behind strong starting pitching.
Nathan Eovaldi turned in the lone rough outing of the stint for Miami when he surrendered five runs in the first two frames of an eventual 6-1 defeat at Atlanta. The bulk of the scoring came on a three-run homer from Freddie Freeman in the second inning, and the performance resulted in Eovaldi's sixth loss of the season.
However, there was an encouraging sign from the young right-hander, who will face off against Jordan Zimmermann in the series opener against the Nationals in Miami on Monday night. After the four-run second, Eovaldi settled in and completed seven innings without allowing a run over his final five.
"It's great that he kept us from having to use a bunch of bullpen guys, for sure," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "Where we are right now with him, for him to win games at the big league level, he's going to have to eliminate those big numbers in an inning."
Eovaldi has had his ups and downs over the last two months. He hasn't won since June 23 at Philadelphia and he is 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in four July starts.
In May, Eovaldi beat the Nationals at Washington, giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He's looking to build on the final five innings of his last start at Atlanta.
"After the first two innings, I was able to establish my fastball down and away," Eovaldi said. "I was able to start working to my advantage."
Zimmermann, meanwhile, returned to the mound on Tuesday at the Rockies for the first time since sustaining a biceps strain during his last outing before the All-Star break.
The right-hander struggled and surrendered four earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, over five innings, but he reported no lingering effects regarding his injury. That could be good news for the Nationals, who are looking for Zimmermann to return to his June form, when he compiled a 1.43 ERA in 44 innings.
Nationals: Rizzo proud of Thomas' induction
White Sox great Frank Thomas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo negotiated Thomas' first contract after Chicago drafted the slugger in the first round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft, but he was unable to attend the ceremony in Cooperstown because of the upcoming Trade Deadline.
"I talked to Frank and told him how I proud I am of him," Rizzo said. "Sunday comes at a really busy time for us here in baseball where you have Trade Deadline stuff to worry about. I felt it was more important to be here with the team. I will be [with him] in spirit, and I will watch Frank's acceptance speech and have a lot of pride."
Rizzo was working as a scout for the White Sox at the time of the signing, and the executive said the process was key in his decision to pursue a career as a general manager.
Marlins: Make or break series?
Seasons aren't necessarily won in late July, but the Marlins understand they could seriously diminish any chances of a realistic second-half run with a letdown in the final days of the month.
Miami is coming off a successful road trip, with series wins at Atlanta and Houston.
The Nationals and Braves are setting the pace in the National League East, and the Marlins are looking to close some distance at Marlins Park.
"Head to head [are] the most important games, because it's the easiest time to gain ground," right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "The rest of the season, every game is big. But this series coming up is huge for us -- even for decision-making."
In the days leading up to Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins are looking to add a major piece, either a starting pitcher or second baseman.
"We're playing good ball lately," Garrett Jones said. "I think we have a great approach. This is a big series. We've got to do everything that we can to win at all costs. We can't afford to give any games away or make many mental mistakes. Each game to the end of the wire is a big game."
• Stanton has started all 104 games for Miami this season. He played the final two games against the Astros on Saturday and Sunday as the team's designated hitter.