The Braves are currently 4-8 this season against the Nationals and trail by five games, though they do lead the Wild Card. The only time the teams will meet again this year will be Sept. 14-16 at Turner Field.
The fact that the Braves are sitting five behind the Nationals says a lot considering Washington has the best record in the Major Leagues.
"Everybody is looking for a great series and an intense series," Martin Prado said.
"We've got to deal with a good team, one of the best teams in the league right now. We're looking forward to a good series. Everybody is excited to play. I'm just hoping the stadium is going to be packed and that there will be a lot of intense emotional stuff. If we win the series there, it will be super huge for us and give us even more confidence in our team."
Washington has won 12 of their last 15 compared to Atlanta winning 18 of their last 25, although the Braves lost ground Sunday in their 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They haven't led the division since May 21 and haven't been within two games since June 9.
"We have the opportunity to take advantage because it seems like every time we win, they win and they don't lose very often," Freddie Freeman said. "So this is our time to try to take control of things and get a little closer."
The Nationals will look to Jordan Zimmerman on the hill to start the series on Monday. Zimmerman took his first loss since June 22 on Tuesday, but he holds the NL's best ERA at 2.38.
Tim Hudson will pitch for Atlanta and will look to reverse his fortunes against Washington. He has allowed 12 runs in 12 2/3 innings against the Nationals this year.
"The first game of any series is a big game," Hudson said. "If you can win that game then you're sitting in the driver's seat for the next couple. I'm just going to go out there and do what I always do and that's be prepared and give us a good chance to win. Hopefully if I go out there and I'm on top of my game and I'm doing my job, then we should win."
The good news for the Braves is that Hudson's last loss came against the Nationals on July 1. The Braves have since won his last eight starts.
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