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Washington Nationals’ lineup for tonight’s series opener with the Atlanta Braves

Washington and Atlanta start a three-game set in D.C. tonight with both teams on a roll. Will the Nationals be able to make a dent in the Braves’ lead in the division?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With hits in five straight (6 for 17, .353/.368/.706) and homers in back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals’ center fielder Victor Robles showed signs of life at the plate.

Robles, 21, was struggling with the bat, going 16 for 80 (.200/.316/.325) with four doubles, two homers, eight walks, and 20 strikeouts in 24 games and 96 plate appearances over the last few weeks, but after an 0 for 3 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks this week, the rookie outfielder went on the mini-streak over the last five games.

“I think he’s in his legs a little more and he’s getting ready on time, those are two big things that I see,” Davey Martinez told reporters after Robles improved to 11 for 35 (.314/.351/.743) with a double, a triple, and four home runs against the Nats’ divisional rivals in 2019 with a 3 for 6 series against the Phillies.

Martinez also talked about the contributions he’s getting from Robles, Brian Dozier (3 for 7, 2B, 2 HRs), and Howie Kendrick (6 for 11, HR, 3 BB on the current homestand), who have all been producing in the last few weeks (and all season in Kendrick’s case).

“They’re all doing their part and they’re swinging the bats well,” the second-year skipper said.

“What I like is even when we don’t hit home runs, they’re putting the ball in play, they’re moving the ball, our strikeouts are down, which is nice, so they’re making contact and they’re putting balls in play when we need to.”

Will the Nationals, who’ve now won four straight, seven of their last 10, and 11 of 16 so far in June, be able to keep it going this weekend against the Atlanta Braves, who’ve won 8 of 10, and 14 of 18 this month and start the three-game set with a 4.5-game lead over the second-place Phillies and a 7.5 game lead over the third-place Nats.