The biggest issue for the Nationals this season has been their inability to sustain any sort of consistency, and it all really started the last time they played their opponent this weekend, the Padres.
The two teams spilt a series at Petco Park earlier this season, with the Nationals winning the first two before dropping the final two. That series ended on May 19, which was also the last time Washington began a day more than two games over .500.
Since then, the Nationals have won three straight games only once and have struggled mostly with consistency on offense, with the latest example occurring this week. After winning back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday by scoring 13 and 10 runs, respectively, they were shutout on Tuesday and scored one run on Wednesday, both losses.
It's prompted Nationals manager Davey Johnson to make some changes in the batting order, flipping Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth between second and sixth.
"Normally you don't have the median of runs scored, I don't care who's pitching, you generally don't have two and under a lot and then a bunch over," Johnson said about this season's run production. "There's generally more consistency in average and runs per game. … I've thought about just throwing a bunch of names in a hat and picking them out, but I ain't to that point yet."
The Padres will come to Nationals Park to conclude a 10-game road trip in which they are 1-6. They are on a season-high six-game losing streak.
San Diego might be feeling the effects of having four starters from its Opening Day starting lineup on the disabled list -- first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jedd Gyorko, shortstop Everth Cabrera and center fielder Cameron Maybin.
"We're banged up," third baseman Chase Headley. "We've got guys on the DL, guys banged up a little who are playing. It's hard to say if the team is fatigued, because you play so many games. But when you're not playing with all your guys …"
The Padres are expecting to get a boost on Friday when Cabrera is expected to return. The leadoff hitter has missed the past 17 games with a strained hamstring.
He was hitting .305 with four homers and 31 stolen bases before his injury.
"He was playing extremely well, he was a catalyst," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He was very instrumental for us climbing over .500."
Both of Friday's starters are coming off a stellar month of June.
Padres starter Andrew Cashner went 1-0 with a 2.78 ERA, however, the club was only 2-3 in his starts.
In six June outings, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez had a 1.79 ERA, with 44 whiffs in 40 1/3 innings while opponents hit .176 against him.
Padres: Gyorko to test his injury
Injured Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko is expected to test his injured groin again this weekend by running and seeing how it responds. If Gyorko can run without pain, he will be re-evaluated when the team returns home on Monday.
Gyorko has been on the disabled list since June 10, and the rookie admitted he's getting anxious to play.
"You still want to watch as much as you can, but it's getting pretty old sitting and watching the game every night," Gyorko said.
If all had gone according to plan, he would already have returned to the Padres lineup, but he tweaked the injury during a Minor League rehab game on June 26.
Nationals: Ramos' strong return from the DL
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos went 3-for-4 with the decisive three-run homer in the eighth inning and five RBIs in his first game back from the disabled list, an 8-5 Nationals victory on Thursday.
He is hoping to provide some spark to a Nationals lineup that has struggled at times this season. Ramos missed 44 games with a strained left hamstring, the third time he's suffered such an injury.
"It's a little bit hard, because I'm a little bit scared to get hurt again," Ramos admitted. "But you know, right now, I'm mentally 100 percent hard, strong. I don't want to think about that. I want to go out there and play hard and try to give my best effort."
• Cashner is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his career against the Nationals.
• The Nationals are tied for second in the Majors with nine shutouts. They are second in games scoring one run or fewer (23) and two runs or fewer (37).
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.