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ARI@MIL: Collmenter strikes out three in solid start

The D-backs have been playing better baseball as of late and are returning home to Phoenix following a 6-3 road trip. Most teams would look forward to getting back to some familiar surroundings following a lengthy time away from home, but then again, the D-backs have yet to find their mojo in the desert so far this season.

Arizona is just 3-13 at Chase Field this season and 3-15 at home overall when including two losses in Australia against the Dodgers to open the season. The D-backs have nearly identical slash lines and have scored close to the same number of runs per game both home and away, so the issue hasn't necessarily been the hitting. D-backs pitchers, meanwhile, own a 5.36 ERA at home vs. a 4.52 ERA on the road.

"We need that momentum to carry us back coming home and then we need to play well at home," outfielder Cody Ross said. "That's the main thing."

The D-backs will start Josh Collmenter and take on Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann to open a three-game set with Washington starting Monday. The series marks the return to Chase Field of Nationals manager Matt Williams, who served on the Arizona coaching staff for four seasons prior to taking the job in Washington.

Zimmermann hasn't allowed an earned run over his last two starts covering 10 1/3 innings, though his last start was cut short after four innings due to a lengthy rain delay last Monday against the Dodgers.

Zimmermann helped stabilize a rotation that hung together without an injured Doug Fister, who made his season debut on Friday. The rotation has also been boosted by the development of righty Tanner Roark, who is 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in seven starts.

"Yeah, we're all back and healthy and pitching pretty well right now," said Zimmermann of the Nats' rotation. "It's fun to watch every night."

While the rotation ranks just inside the top half among National League teams with a 3.61 ERA, the bullpen has been one of baseball's best. Despite allowing three runs late in Washington's 4-3 walkoff win on Saturday, the Nationals' bullpen was third in all of baseball with a 2.32 ERA entering play Sunday.

"We've got some pretty special talent here," lefty reliever Jerry Blevins said. "We've got [Drew] Storen, who closed for a long time, we've got [Rafael] Soriano, who's been doing it forever, [Tyler Clippard], who's been one of the best setup men for a handful of years. We've got a lot of versatility. Pretty high-end talent."

D-backs: Ross stops thinking about hip
Outfielder Cody Ross admits that, when he returned to the field this spring, there was still some lingering thoughts about the horrific hip injury he suffered last August.

While running to first on a grounder to the infield, Ross stumbled and tripped, causing his right hip to pop out of the socket and breaking the socket that holds it in place.

"For anybody who has had this type of injury to say that they're not going to think about it would be an absolute lie," he said. "Anything, from running to first and playing the outfield, to sliding, to diving, in the back of your mind, even if it wasn't what I thought, you think in the back of your mind, 'Is it going to hold up if I do this or do that?'"

Ross said that could have played a role in his slow start at the plate.

"Maybe that has a little bit to do with it," he said. "But now that's kind of all gone and hopefully that helps me concentrate on playing and producing and helping."

Nationals: Blevins likes team's chances despite injuries
The Nationals had a rough weekend in Oakland. Not only did the team lose the series, but it also lost slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche to the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad. On Sunday, the team recalled Tyler Moore to replace LaRoche, who now joins Bryce Harper (left thumb surgery) and Ryan Zimmerman (broken right thumb) on the DL.

Still, Blevins sounds confident in his club's ability to stay competitive in the tough National League East.

"We're trying to show our depth right now and kind of figure out the identity of our team and dealing with missing some key pieces," Blevins said. "Just trying to weather the storm until we kind of figure it out and hit that stride for the marathon."

Worth noting
• The Nationals are 15-1 when scoring four or more runs this season.

• By taking the rubber match against the White Sox on Sunday, the D-backs won their third consecutive series, all on the road.

• Arizona's Gerardo Parra extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday.

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