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WSH@PIT: Jackson fans five over seven innings

As long as Adam Jones keeps swinging for the fences, the Baltimore Orioles have to feel good about their chances of staying atop the American League East. And if Jones can homer on Friday against the Nationals, there's no reason why Baltimore shouldn't be optimistic as it opens Interleague Play against its geographical rival.

After Jones hit his 13th homer of the season in Thursday's 5-3 win over the Royals -- his third in as many days -- the Orioles had won 12 of the 13 games in which the center fielder has gone deep. The two-run homer was just the fourth blast for Jones this season that wasn't a solo shot.

"Jones is having a great year, and we're proud of him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Wednesday's game. "He doesn't ever give in. You always feel that if he struggles, somebody is going to pay down the line. He's a very competitive young man."

The job to slow down Jones falls to Nationals starter Edwin Jackson. The right-hander has been prone to the long ball as of late, allowing a combined five home runs in his last three starts. Jackson (1-1) has come away with a no-decision in each of those games, and hasn't recorded a decision since a loss on April 19.

Despite lasting just five innings and giving up two home runs his last time out against the Reds on Sunday, Jackson did not walk a batter for the second time this year.

Orioles: Arrieta eyes bounce-back effort
Right-hander Jake Arrieta has the task of trying to right the ship after a pair of subpar starts. In his last outing, Arrieta lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on 10 hits and walking two in a loss to the Rays on Mother's Day. That start followed one in which he gave up six runs on nine hits in a loss to the Rangers on May 8. Arrieta has struggled against the Nationals in two career starts, with an 0-1 record and a 12.38 ERA.

Nationals: Favorable results against Arrieta
With Arrieta having spent his entire career with the Orioles, not many Nationals players have faced the right-hander. But the limited experience has proved to be positive. Each of the six current Washington players who have faced Arrieta have reached base safely at least once, even though no batter has had more than five plate appearances. Danny Espinosa leads the pack with a triple and a home run in two at-bats against the O's starter.

Worth noting
For the first time in their brief Interleague rivalry, the Orioles and Nationals are both contending teams in their respective divisions, making for an even more meaningful series.

"As far as the Orioles go, both teams are climbing and still getting better," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "In previous years, it was tough to be a Nationals fan and an Orioles fan, so it's nice to see both teams winning, and people in this area rooting for them." Comments