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PHI@MIA: Alvarez tosses seven shutout innings

Something has to give when Henderson Alvarez faces the Nationals.

The Marlins rely on Alvarez to be one of their top starters and log his share of innings. Yet when he starts against the Nationals, his teams have had minimal success.

Washington is 5-0 in the games Alvarez has started, including four with Miami. When the right-hander was previously with the Blue Jays, his team also came out on the losing end to the Nationals.

"He gives us a chance to win," manager Mike Redmond said of Alvarez. "Sometimes it kind of looks like it might be teetering. But he goes out there and he pounds the strike zone. He keeps teams off-balance and he keeps us in ballgames."

The Marlins edged the Nationals, 3-2, in the series opener on Monday. It was just Miami's second win in its last 13 games at Nationals Park.

Washington looks to even things up in Game 2 with right-hander Blake Treinen, who is seeking his first career win. Treinen has made two starts and three relief appearances. In his last outing, he allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four in a loss against the Pirates. The right-hander was hurt by five walks.

Treinen has been filling the rotation spot of Gio Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.

A lesson Treinen learned in his loss at Pittsburgh is the little things can loom large.

"I need to execute pitches a little better next time," Treinen said. "My stuff plays [in the big leagues]. I just have to execute pitches. Next time I'm out, I'll do a better job of it."

As for Alvarez, the Marlins are looking for improvement on the road. At home, his ERA is 1.85, compared to 4.88 ERA away from Marlins Park.

"It's going to be big for our starters to go deep into games," Redmond said. "We're going to probably ask them to do a little more and go a little deeper. They've got the stuff to do that. Hopefully that translates into games, to be able to keep their pitches down to where we can get seven innings out of a starter, or six-plus innings out of a starter."

Marlins: Figuring out how to win on the road
Figuring out how to perform on the road has been a season-long concern for the Marlins. Their home and road splits have been well publicized. Miami is 20-8 at Marlins Park, and 7-17 on the road. It's even more pronounced at Nationals Park, dating back to last year. Miami is 2-12 in D.C. since the start of the 2013 season.

"These guys have given us a tough time since I've been here," manager Mike Redmond said. "They're a great test for us to see where we're at."

Even though the Marlins have been up and down, they've remained competitive.

"I feel like we've played every team tough," Redmond said. "It's more just consistency with us. I want to see us go out and play the way we're capable of playing; that's going to give us our best shot. We've had some road games where we haven't been able to execute. I think when we're able to do that, we're going to start winning more games on the road."

Nationals: Opponents running on empty
The Nationals' catchers -- Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton and Sandy Leon -- are having a much better year throwing out runners. Entering Tuesday's action against the Marlins, the trio has cut down 39 percent (12-of-31) of would-be basestealers.

It helps that Washington's pitchers are doing a better job of holding runners on base. Manager Matt Williams emphasized during Spring Training that the team had to improve in that area after the club's catchers threw out just 14 percent of basestealers in 2013, which ranked 29th in the Major Leagues.

The biggest factor is that they are checking the runner and throwing to first more often. In the past, the pitchers wouldn't look over to first and allow the runner to steal second easily.

Worth noting
• Derek Dietrich was struck by a pitch in the third inning on Monday afternoon. Dietrich has now been hit by a pitch eight times, which is tied with Neil Walker of the Pirates for the most in the Majors. But Dietrich also committed an error on Monday, giving him eight, which is the most among second basemen.

• Giancarlo Stanton on Monday belted his 21st career homer against Washington, with 14 coming at Nationals Park. Stanton has 49 RBIs on the season. No Marlin has ever reached 50 before June 1.

• Adam LaRoche's two-run homer off Nathan Eovaldi was his first of the season against Miami. But the Nationals have belted 10 home runs total in seven meetings with the Marlins.

• Four runs seems to be a magic number for the Nationals. They are 21-1 when scoring four or more runs. After Monday's loss, the Nats are 4-25 when they're held to fewer than four runs.

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