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Dodgers' Wood seeks first victory at Nationals Park

WASHINGTON -- Nationals Park is not foreign to left-hander Alex Wood, who is slated to start there Friday for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he hasn't tasted victory in the nation's capital.

Wood (14-3, 2.81 ERA) used to pitch for the Atlanta Braves, who make three trips a year to Washington. He is 3-3 with a 2.78 ERA in nine career starts against the Nationals and 0-2, 2.84 in four turns at Nationals Park.

After going 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA in the first half of the season, he is 4-3 with a mark of 4.53 in the second half.

Wood went only five innings Saturday in his most recent start, giving up five runs and eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts in a 6-5 home loss to the Colorado Rockies.

"My command wasn't great," Wood said after the game. "Overall, I thought my stuff was there. I got to hopefully lock the command back in. It's time to bear down and hopefully turn this thing around."

Wood is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 11 road starts this year.

The Nationals will start Edwin Jackson (5-5, 4.14 ERA), who is 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers (94-52) beat the Nationals (89-57) in five games last year in the National League Division Series, and the teams are on track to finish with the two best records in the league this year.

Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, and the Dodgers are closing in on the NL West title. The Nationals won two of three in Los Angeles June 5-7.

"I don't think we need to make a statement," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of facing Washington, "but I do think it's important for us to play good baseball. With baseball, there is a psychological component to pitcher-batter, team vs. team, that you can't really quantify, but there is something to it.

"We lost a series to these guys at home, so for us to go into their ballpark, with their team playing pretty good baseball, I think it's important. Not only because it's the Nationals, but for us internally to play good baseball. If we do that, it's a statement enough."

Washington manager Dusty Baker played in the World Series for the Dodgers in 1977, 1978 and 1981.

Speaking of the current Dodgers team, Baker said, "I'd watch them every day, it's just too late to stay up and watch. I've been paying attention to them the whole time, teams (that had) a better record than us or near us."

The Nationals are trying to get several regulars healthy as they prepare to host playoff games Oct. 6 and 7.

Jayson Werth returned to the starting lineup Wednesday after missing five games due to a sore left shoulder. Bryce Harper, who is on the disabled list because of knee and calf injuries, has started to ramp up his activities. He ran in the outfield before the Thursday game.

There was good news about shortstop Trea Turner, who missed 51 games with a wrist injury but had three hits Wednesday and stole his 40th base of the year. Turner added a double Thursday.

The Nationals beat the Braves 5-2 on Thursday with strong games from young players such as Victor Robles and Adrian Sanchez. Regulars Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy all got the night off.

"We got some energy tonight," Baker said Thursday, "and so hopefully that will transfer into tomorrow with our veteran guys against the Dodgers. And hopefully they'll be rested and ready to go tomorrow."

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