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BAL@WSH: Strasburg fans eight over five frames

On Saturday, Stephen Strasburg will make his first start since leaving his last outing early with right forearm tightness, while the Braves hope to continue to experience success against the Nationals' young right-handed starter.

The two clubs, currently in first and second place in the National League East, face off for the second of a three-game series at Turner Field on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET. Braves left-hander Mike Minor (2-4, 6.96 ERA) opposes Strasburg (4-1, 2.21).

The first-place Nationals (27-18), who lead the Braves (26-21) by two games, won Friday's meeting, 7-4.

The Braves are the only Major League club Strasburg has lost to more than once in his young career. The 23-year old is 0-2 in two career starts against them, allowing five earned runs in just 10 1/3 innings.

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones had nothing but praise for Strasburg.

"The guy is dominant. He's got the best repertoire of pitches I've seen from any one single pitcher," Jones said. "Our success against Strasburg relies as much on who our starting pitcher is as how we do offensively against Strasburg."

Jones described Strasburg as a "Kerry Wood in his prime, Justin Verlander" hybrid for his fastball and breaking ball. Strasburg's changeup, Jones said, is what sets him apart.

"Verlander has got a good changeup. But his is a circle change that just kind of fades away," Jones said. "[Strasburg's] is a 90 [mph] split that just falls off the table. When you're going up there gearing up for 95 or 96, and he throws you 90 and the bottom falls out of it, that's a pretty lethal combination."

Minor, just 24 years old in his own right, is looking for his first win since April 19. Minor has lost his last two starts.

"When you're dealing with young pitchers, you always want to see how they react in the last start," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You want to see how your young hurlers react to the hurdles they face."

Nationals: Morse homers in extended spring game
First baseman/outfielder Michael Morse, who has yet to play this season with a torn left lat muscle, homered and hit an RBI single as a designated hitter in an extended spring game in Viera, Fla., on Friday.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Morse was problem-free during a session of throwing, which has been his biggest issue related to the injury. Morse, who hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs in 2011, is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac starting Monday, and his target date to return is June 8.

Braves: Jones unsure of when he'll return
Jones, who has a badly bruised left calf, was not in the lineup for the seventh straight game on Friday night. Jones did pinch-hit in Wednesday's loss to the Reds. The 40-year-old veteran was hitting .307 with five home runs and 24 RBIs before the injury.

"If we had it to do all over again, I probably would not have pinch-hit [on Wednesday], just in case I do need to go on the disabled list," Jones said. "But now it's pretty much out of the question. I don't see myself missing two more weeks. I'm sure they'd rather have me for one at-bat in a close spot, even if I can't play."

Worth Noting
• The Braves have lost five in a row and six of their last seven.

• Strasburg can retake the National League lead in strikeouts with a strong performance on Saturday. Strasburg is currently third in the NL with 64 punchouts, five behind teammate Gio Gonzalez and just two behind Philadelphia's Cole Hamels. Strasburg has issued only 13 walks in 2012.

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