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Strasburg explains his renewed focus for 2013 season

The Cubs got the Nationals with a couple men down in the series opener Friday, with outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth out due to injury. And both of them will be missing from the lineup again Saturday, when Washington takes the field against a former teammate.

Edwin Jackson, who went 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 31 starts for the Nationals last year, will take the mound for the Cubs on Saturday looking for his first win of the year. He'll face a lineup that will be sans Werth and Harper, the latter remaining sidelined after undergoing a minor procedure to have an ingrown toenail removed.

"It's good to be back," Jackson said. "I had a chance to catch up with a few of the guys. They seem to be in good spirits and doing well. It should be a fun series. I come back to my old stomping grounds."

Not only will Jackson be going up against one of the toughest lineups in the National League, but he'll be going toe-to-toe with Washington's Stephen Strasburg.

"He's a great pitcher," Jackson said of Strasburg. "It'll be a lot of fun. Whether it was [Gio Gonzalez], whether it was Stras', whether it was [Jordan Zimmermann], whether it was [Ross Detwiler] -- it doesn't matter who will be on the mound."

Jackson averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings last year for the Nationals, helping to propel Washington to a surprising playoff berth. His numbers are up to 9.2 this year, but he's still looking to regain the sturdiness he often displayed last season, as he's allowed 44 hits in 38 innings of work across seven starts.

"He did a good job for us; he's very likable," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "Everybody liked him. He did a good job. He's the enemy now. We're not giving him any secrets. My guys know him. He knows my guys. I've had a lot of those situations over the years. I don't turn my back on them, but I don't go over and hug them either."

It's an important opportunity for Strasburg, too, to demonstrate that the arm issues he had against the Braves two starts ago are entirely a thing of the past.

Strasburg lasted seven innings, allowed four runs on five hits and struck out eight in his last outing against the Pirates. But the right-hander, a favorite for the Cy Young Award in his first Major League season with a clean bill of health and zero restrictions, has just one win to go with his 3.45 ERA.

Nationals: Werth not healing; another outfielder coming
• Werth's recovery from "a very slight strain of his [right] hamstring," general manager Mike Rizzo said, has not gone as well as the Nationals have hoped, so they placed him on the disabled list before Saturday's game, retroactive to May 2. He'll be eligible to return on May 18, and the Nationals recalled center fielder Eury Perez from Triple-A Syracuse for the time being.

• Johnson said Harper was "gimpy" after having surgery to remove a toenail on his right foot.

Cubs: Up and down in D.C.
• The Cubs went 8-2 in their first 10 games at Nationals Park once the ballpark opened in 2008 (through 2010), but have gone 1-8 in Washington since the start of the 2011 campaign.

• The Cubs are 7-4 against teams that finished below .500 last season and 6-18 against winning teams from last year.

• This three-game series at Nationals Park is the Cubs' only three games away from Wrigley Field in a 19-game stretch that began April 29.

Worth noting
• Jackson has played for eight different teams over his 11-year career. He wasn't re-signed by the Nationals this winter after one season, but the Cubs signed him to a four-year, $52 million contract.

"I have seven ex-teams, eight ex-teams," Jackson said. "It's a pretty familiar situation for me. I have a lot of homecomings to say the least."

• The Nationals won six of seven in last year's season series, outscoring the Cubs, 43-18, along the way.

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