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Monday, June 11th (All times Eastern)
Washington Nationals (35-23) at Toronto Blue Jays (31-29), 7:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Edwin Jackson (2-3, 3.11) Toronto - Brandon Morrow (7-3, 2.90)
(Sports Network) - The Nationals franchise once called Canada home, but their trips north of the border since relocating haven't produced many fond memories.
Washington hopes to change that this week as the streaking club begins a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Nationals have won just two of their nine trips to Toronto since moving from Montreal to Washington prior to the 2005 season, dropping two of three during their last trip there in 2007. The Blue Jays have won nine of 15 overall since the start of the 2005 season.
This doesn't figure to be the same Nationals team of years past as the current edition of the club comes into this set with a two-game lead for first place in the National League East and 12 games over .500 (32-23) for the first time since July of 2005.
Washington visited Boston for three games this past weekend and picked up three victories, finishing off the sweep with Sunday's 4-3 triumph thanks to a late, clutch hit from Roger Bernadina.
Pinch-hitter Bryce Harper, who did not start due to lower back tightness, drew a walk in the top of the ninth and later raced home with the go-ahead run on Bernadina's double down the right-field line. Tyler Clippard then worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth for his eighth save of the year and Washington's fifth victory in six games.
Getting the call in this opener will be Edwin Jackson, who won for the first time in nine starts in the Nationals' victory over the Mets on Wednesday.
Jackson snapped a two-game and three-decision slide, picking up his first win since April 14 when he held New York to three runs -- two earned -- on three hits and four walks over seven innings while striking out six. Despite allowing three earned runs or less for the ninth time in 11 starts, he is just 2-3 with a 3.11 earned run average this year.
"He was exceptional for us tonight," said Washington manager Davey Johnson about Jackson. "Seven strong innings and he probably had a little bit left in the tank."
The 28-year-old righty has faced the Blue Jays 14 times in his career, including 13 starts, and is 3-3 with a 4.34 ERA.
Jackson may not get much run support this evening as Washington's bats have to go up against Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow, who threw his major-league leading third shutout of the season last time out.
Morrow, who faces the Nationals for the first time, held the White Sox to a pair of hits and two walks while striking out five on Wednesday. The 27-year- old moved to 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 12 outings this season and has only given up three earned runs in his seven wins.
Morrow said executing his fastball is key to his success.
"When I have fastball command down to both sides of the plate, that's when I've been at my best," said Morrow. "I had that tonight."
Toronto halted a three-game slide in a big way on Sunday, erasing an early four-run deficit with a 12-4 win. Colby Rasmus highlighted the Blue Jays' season-high 18-hit attack with a 3-for-6 effort at the plate. Rasmus drilled a solo homer, had three RBI and scored twice.
Toronto had been held to just eight hits over its three-game slide.
"Hitting always has been (contagious)," noted Toronto's Kelly Johnson, who contributed an RBI triple in the win. "You just have to bring it everyday and be as consistent as possible with that."
Brett Lawrie had a two-run homer and drove in three runs, while Edwin Encarnacion added an RBI double among his three hits in the triumph.
06/11 10:30:13 ET
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