In his second start since returning from the disabled list, the veteran right-hander will try to earn his first victory in nearly a year as Washington continues a three-game series with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
In a meeting before Friday night’s opener, Riggleman told his team to keep striving even though the franchise is headed toward its sixth last-place finish in the NL East in seven seasons.
“We’re in a bad time right now, but we just have to play hard, play right through it,” Riggleman told the team’s website. “I reminded them that I appreciate that they have been playing hard. … We’re going through some bad times. Regardless of what the standings say or what the score says, some good can come out of the ballgame.”
The Nationals (50-66) reacted by scoring three runs in the first inning against the Diamondbacks (46-71). Will Nieves added a solo homer in the next frame of a 4-2 victory.
Ryan Zimmerman(notes) opened the scoring with a two-run single, giving him a .347 average and 26 RBIs in his last 33 games. Ian Desmond(notes) is batting .362 in his last 17 after a three-hit performance Friday.
Desmond had two of his team’s six hits Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Nationals were out of it early in an 8-3 loss.
After spending nearly four months recovering from elbow surgery, Marquis (0-4, 15.32 ERA) gave up four runs in the opening frame. He would finish with five runs - two earned - and five hits allowed over four-plus innings.
“I’m excited to be back I wish it would have turned out a little bit better today,” Marquis told the team’s website. “I’ll work my butt off to do little better, and I’ll have better results next time.”
The right-hander, who recored his previous win Sept. 8 while pitching for Colorado, hasn’t fared much better recently against Arizona, going 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA in his last four matchups. He’s 2-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 11 career starts.
Kennedy has given up at least four runs in four consecutive outings, including a 7-2 loss to Washington on Aug. 4 in which he lasted a season-low four innings. He struggled with his control during Monday’s 7-4, 10-inning win at Milwaukee - hitting three batters, walking three and throwing two wild pitches that both led to runs.
However, Kennedy, who leads all current Arizona pitchers with nine hit batters and 13 wild pitches, also aided his team’s comeback with scoreless frames in the final three of his six innings.
“It was humid and he couldn’t get a grip, especially on his changeup,” manager Kirk Gibson told the team’s website. “In the fourth inning, it cooled down just a little bit and he kind of got back into it.”
Arizona will attempt to avoid its fifth consecutive defeat in Washington after winning six of its previous seven games there.