Padres right-hander Jason Marquis remembers his time in Washington quite fondly, even though he pitched during a period of transition for the Nationals.
The Nats went 69-93 in 2010 and 80-81 in 2011, but he saw signs of the team breaking out back then. Marquis was traded by the Nationals just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in '11 and still keeps in touch with some of the Nationals' players and staff members.
"Good, young core group of guys and, obviously, you can see why they're producing now -- they've had a pretty good team here the last year and a half," Marquis said. "Watching these guys grow and become quality pitchers, it's fun to watch. I still remain in contact with players and staff on that side and it's always nice to come back."
When the Padres play the Nationals at Nationals Park on Saturday it will mark the first time Marquis faces his former team since being traded.
He will also carry the task of ending the Padres' season-high seven-game losing streak, in which they have been outscored 39-12.
Marquis comes into the game with a 9-4 record and 3.74 ERA.
Marquis praised Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos along with starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann -- his opponent on Saturday.
Zimmermann is 12-3 with a 2.46 ERA and will almost certainly be taking the mound on the same day he is named to his first All-Star team on Saturday.
Zimmermann lost to the Padres on May 18 in San Diego, despite lasting eight innings and allowing just two runs (one earned). In his last start against the Brewers on Monday, he allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings, although he did have a big lead early.
"You get eight runs like that and you're just pitching to the score," Zimmerman said after the game. "I'm throwing fastballs and trying to get quick outs and trying not to fall behind anyone. ... They obviously knew I was going to throw the fastball and I wasn't going to mess around. They were ready for it."
The Nationals will enter Saturday's game two games over .500, and the last time they were three games over was May 18, coincidentally when they were playing the Padres.
Padres: Alonso to begin working out
Injured first baseman Yonder Alonso is the next Padres player making strides on his way back from the disabled list.
Alonso will take part in workouts and batting practice with Triple-A Tucson on Saturday, a possible precursor to playing in rehab games. He has been on the disabled list since June 6 with a broken bone in his right hand.
"He's going to get a feel for getting back into action," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We're happy the hand is healing. It's close.
"All the [CT] scans that have taken place, it has shown the bone is healing. There's less pain. And he feels good."
Nationals: Mattheus throws off mound
• Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus threw off a mound on Friday for the first time since breaking his pitching hand on May 19 in San Diego when he punched a locker after giving up five runs in an inning of work.
"Well, it's kind of ironic, here San Diego is, and this is the club that made him break his hand," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "Now, he's back on the mound. I hope he doesn't run in after and start hitting his locker again. "But he threw great. Everybody was impressed who saw him throw."
Mattheus had been throwing off flat ground and will pitch off a mound at least a couple more times. If he doesn't have any issues, he's expected to begin a rehab assignment in about 10 days.
• For the second straight day on Friday, Johnson hit Ian Desmond second in the lineup and Jayson Werth sixth.
It's worked out well so far, as the Nationals scored eight runs on Thursday and Friday.
So, will Johnson stick with it?
"Desi asked me the same thing, 'Are we gonna stay with this?' I said: 'No, we're not locking into anything. But I like somebody with thump in between the lefties,'" Johnson said.
• The Padres are 33-20 against the Nationals since they moved to D.C. and that is is the second-best among all National League squads, trailing only the Rockies (40-23).
• Padres third baseman Chase Headley is hitting .377 (23-for-61) with eight runs, seven doubles, one triple and two home runs at Nationals Park.
• Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has eight RBIs and five hits in the two games he's played since returning from the disabled list on Thursday.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.