The Phillies return from a 5-1 road trip hoping to stay hot. They'll need to if they want to put distance between themselves and a key National League East rival.

Philadelphia begins a seven-game homestand a half-game behind the Astros in the NL Wild Card standings, and five games behind the Braves in the NL East. They start with the Nationlas, who they lead by a half-game in the division and Wild Card standings. The Phillies have an advantage in the series, having taken two of three from Washington before the All-Star break.

Both teams are coming off three-game sweeps. The Nationals wiped up Colorado, while the Phillies took down San Diego.

Brett Myers starts the opener. After going 4-1 with a 3.32 ERA in July, Myers has stumbled in August. The righty has allowed nine runs in his previous two starts, spanning 13 1/3 innings.

Washington counters with Livan Hernandez. After a stretch in which he gave up three earned runs or less in 18 of 19 starts, Hernandez has struggled in August, yielding nine runs in his two starts this month, and lasting less than seven innings in each for the first time since June 14. He has won only once in his seven starts since July 6.

Pitching matchup
WAS: RHP Livan Hernandez
• 13-5, 3.51 ERA in 2005
• 0-1, 13.50 ERA vs. PHI in 2005

PHI: RHP Brett Myers
• 10-5, 3.46 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 0.66 ERA vs. WAS in 2005

Player to watch
Kenny Lofton is 3-for-10 with three homers in his career against Hernandez.

Quotable
"We loved it. Couldn't have happened to a better guy. I especially loved it because he was on me from Day 1." --bullpen catcher Mick Billmeyer, on pitching coach Rich Dubee getting hit on the head by a foul ball on Sunday

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
Gameday
Official game notes

On television
• WAS: MASN WDCA-20
• PHI: CSN

On radio
• WAS: WFED AM
• PHI: WPHT 1210 AM; WPWA 1590 (Spanish)

Quick hits
The seven runs scored by the Phillies in the fifth on Sunday was their highest single-inning total of the season. It bested the previous mark of six, set June 4 against the Diamondbacks. ... Philadelphia is 5-4 against the Nationals this season.

On deck
• Tuesday: vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: vs. Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET