Marlins take their chances against Gonzalez in D.C.

Florida-born lefty Gio Gonzalez makes his fifth career start against his hometown team on Thursday night when the Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins in the finale of their three-game set at Nationals Park.

A 28-year-old, Gonzalez was born in the Miami suburb of Hialeah and began his pro career in 2004 when he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox.

Subsequent trades sent him to Philadelphia for Jim Thome, back to Chicago for Freddy Garcia, to Oakland for Nick Swisher and to Washington for a handful of players.

Gonzalez was a 21-game winner for the Nationals last season and had won three straight starts to get to 7-3 this season by July 10, but has subsequently gone seven starts without a victory since the All-Star break.

He's 0-3 in that stretch and was hit hard in a no-decision in his last start on Aug. 23, surrendering 10 hits and seven runs in 3 1/3 at Kansas City, though Washington rallied to win the game, 11-10.

Gonzalez is 2-2 in the four previous meetings with the Marlins while allowing just six runs in 28 innings and holding Miami batters to a .179 batting average.

He's opposed by New York-born righty Tom Koehler, who seeks a first win since Aug. 1.

The native of the Bronx picked up his third victory of the season with six shutout innings in a 3-0 defeat of the New York Mets, but is 0-2 in four starts since while his ERA has ticked up from 4.34 to 4.45.

He dropped consecutive decisions at Pittsburgh and Kansas City on Aug. 7 and 12, then got no-decisions in home games with San Francisco and Colorado - which Miami split - while allowing four runs on 13 hits in 12 combined innings.

Koehler has never faced the Nationals.

On Wednesday, Ian Desmond's go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning lifted Washington to a 4-3 win. Jayson Werth smacked a solo homer for the Nationals, who have won seven of its last eight games.

Stephen Strasburg tossed two scoreless innings before being replaced by Craig Stammen following a 72-minute rain delay. Drew Storen (4-2) tossed a scoreless seventh to pick up the win and Rafael Soriano fired a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 35th save of the year.

Jeff Mathis and Giancarlo Stanton cracked solo shots for the Marlins, who have dropped seven of their last eight contests.

The Nationals have won eight of 11 versus the Marlins this season, including a three-game sweep in Washington to begin the season.