Cubs try to cool off Nationals in D.C.

Free-agent righty Edwin Jackson makes an eighth attempt at a first victory with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon when they visit Nationals Park for the middle game of a three-game series with the Washington Nationals.

A 10-game winner with the Nationals last season while making 31 starts, Jackson was acquired by the Cubs in the offseason when he signed a four-year deal worth $52 million on Jan. 2.

He was 0-4 in six starts in April with a 6.27 earned run average, then saw that number tick up after his first start in May - when he was nicked for four runs on eight hits in five innings of a 7-4 loss to Cincinnati on May 5.

In 38 composite innings, Jackson has allowed 44 hits and 32 runs while walking 18 batters, striking out 39 and allowing a .284 batting average.

He's faced the Nationals twice in his career and emerged with two no- decisions, but has given up only one run on seven hits in eight full innings.

Washington starts right-handed phenom Stephen Strasburg, who won 15 games last season but has struggled since a season-opening win in 2013.

The 24-year-old, selected first overall in the 2009 draft, defeated Miami, 2-0, with seven innings of scoreless three-hit ball on April 1.

He subsequently lost four straight starts and has since earned two straight no-decisions for the Nationals, who've won just two of the seven games he's started.

In his last start, on May 4 in Pittsburgh, Strasburg allowed four runs on five hits in seven innings of a 5-4 Nationals win.

He pitched seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball in his only career meeting with the Cubs and got a no-decision.

On Friday, Ian Desmond hit a two-run home run and drove in three as the Nationals took a 7-3 win.

Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki each drove in two runs for the Nationals, who have won five straight and sit one game behind Atlanta for the NL East lead. Ross Detwiler (2-3) gave up two runs one eight hits with two strikeouts over 6 2/3 frames to snap a three-start losing streak.

"It was bad on my part to give up a run and let them tie the game after the guys put us up," said Detwiler. "But the guys came right back and gave us the lead back. They really supported me back there tonight."

Starlin Castro hit a pair of doubles, scored once and drove in a run for the Cubs, who have lost six of their last eight. Jeff Samardzija (1-5) dropped his fifth straight decision after giving up seven runs -- five earned -- on eight hits in just five innings.

"I felt good out there today and was working the zone pretty good," said Samardzija. "I just had a few pitches get away from me there and they got a hold of them."

The Nationals won six of seven meetings with the Cubs in 2012 and four of seven in 2011. Chicago last won the series, 4-2, in 2010.