Zambrano will take the mound on Monday night at Marlins Park looking to buck the losing trend against the Nationals, who won two of the first three games in the four-game weekend set. Zambrano is 9-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 14 career starts against the Nationals, two of which came earlier this season.
Zambrano's first loss of the season came on April 20 in Washington, when the 31-year-old right-hander pitched seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball in a 2-0 loss to the Nats. He surrendered three runs on seven hits in six innings, but picked up the win in a 5-3 victory over the Nationals at Marlins Park on May 28.
Though he has picked up four losses during the six-game winless streak, Zambrano has shown an increased control of his emotions on the mound -- a significant contribution for a team trying to move beyond the fringe of the National League Wild Card race.
"He's controlling himself a little bit better," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's not showing attitude on the mound. Maybe it's because he's maturing a little bit more. Maybe it's because people aren't putting up with his [stuff] any more.
"Whatever his reason is, maybe it's because his religion helps him, his family. A lot of people give me credit. I have nothing to do with this. I told him exactly what I want, and he's been doing that."
The Nationals, meanwhile, will be looking to win their first series after the All-Star break. Edwin Jackson will take the mound opposite Zambrano, having already pitched one solid outing against the Marlins, despite taking a loss. Jackson allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in 6 2/3 innings in Miami on May 29.
Jackson, 1-4 with a 5.79 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins, pitched opposite Zambrano once before on June 23, 2009. Jackson was a member of the Tigers and Zambrano was with the Cubs, and neither pitcher earned a decision.
Nationals: Burnett pitches through elbow soreness
Sean Burnett revealed to Nats trainers and coaches on Friday night that he had been pitching through soreness in his left elbow. But after manager Davey Johnson told reporters that placing Burnett on the disabled list was a possibility -- and after the left-hander was held out of Saturday's game -- Burnett pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning with one strikeout on Sunday. Blossoming in his role as the Nats' primary setup man, Burnett sports a 1.93 ERA in 40 appearances.
After entering the All-Star break with a six-game hitting streak, Michael Morse was stymied in the first two games against the Marlins. Morse began the series 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, as the Nats split the opening two games of the series. But he rebounded on Sunday with a 2-for-4 day that included an RBI single in the sixth inning.
Though they notched seven hits on Sunday, the Nats had an 85-game streak with at least one extra-base hit snapped.
Marlins: Bonifacio settling back in after lengthy absence
After missing 46 games with a thumb injury, Emilio Bonifacio has notched hits in two of his three games back, including one in each of his last two.
Sunday's shutout of the Marlins was the Nationals' fifth of the season.
In 35 at-bats against Zambrano, the Nats' Adam LaRoche has hit .257 with a .715 OPS.