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Giants, Nationals headed in different directions

WASHINGTON -- Manager Dusty Baker spoke this week about the importance of new players fitting well into the Washington Nationals' clubhouse in the middle of the season.

One of those veteran players is Edwin Jackson, the well-traveled right-hander who is slated to start Friday at home against the San Francisco Giants.

Jackson (2-2, 3.75 ERA with Washington) will be opposed by Giants right-hander Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63), who will face the Nationals for the first time.

It will be unlike recent matchups between the teams in the nation's capital. The Giants (46-70) are nearly 35 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, and the Nationals (68-45) are 15 games ahead in the National League East after a 3-2 win on Thursday at home against the Miami Marlins.

Jackson, who has played for 12 teams and is no stranger to the playoff race, has worked on his changeup in recent outings.

"It's just location," he told Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. "It was just the focus of the pitch. Instead of leaving it up, just aim down on it. But it's a pitch that I've used -- a pitch that I can definitely use more in the repertoire and add it to the arsenal to get hitters off the fastball and cutters and the slider."

Baker hopes outfielder Howie Kendrick can return to the lineup Friday after back woes kept him out Thursday.

"He could have played today. I think it's best that he doesn't start," Baker said Thursday.

The Giants were off Thursday and made the trip to the nation's capital after a day game at home Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

Stratton was not involved in the decision Saturday as he went five innings and allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) in a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Stratton has taken the spot of Matt Cain in the rotation. In his first start of the year, Stratton was a late fill-in for Johnny Cueto.

"They tell you to always be prepared for anything," Stratton told reporters. "It was definitely a surprise, but I went out there and did the best I could."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy realizes the situation Stratton faced.

"He didn't have a real big heads-up on this one, but a couple more days," Bochy told reporters about his start against the D-backs.

Jackson was charged with the loss in his last start as the Nationals fell 7-4 to the Cubs in Chicago on Saturday. Jackson gave up six hits and four runs in five innings.

In his career, he is 4-4 with a 5.03 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) against the Giants. He was 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts last year against San Francisco.

Earlier this year, he pitched for the Baltimore Orioles and had a 7.20 ERA in three games out of the bullpen.

Jackson has been very successful against several Giants hitters.

Buster Posey is just 1-for-15 (.067), while Denard Span, the former Washington center fielder, is 5-for-20 (.250).

Giants outfielder Jarrett Parker, a University of Virginia product, is hitless in one at-bat against Jackson. Overall, current San Francisco hitters are 30-for-103 (.291) against the Washington right-hander.

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