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Previewing Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals

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USA TODAY Sports

Previewing Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals

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.

REALTED: NATS WITHIN STRIKING RANGE OF DODGERS FOR NL'S BEST TEAM

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.

RELATED: SEE MOMENT NATS WON NL EAST TITLE

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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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT