Chicago Cubs Defeat Washington Nationals, 3-1
Saturday, July 18, 2009
When high-profile teams come to Washington, so do their fans, filling the seats Nationals followers leave empty. But even though Cubs fans drowned out the others during the seventh inning stretch -- "Root, root, root for the Cubbies!" -- there were a few other memorable Chicago snapshots that showed up last night.
There was Aramis Ramírez, who has hit his share of home runs over Wrigley Field's ivy-covered walls, lifting a solo shot in the third inning. There was beloved leadoff batter Kosuke Fukudome slapping hits around the field. And there was even a foul ball reminiscent of the one snatched by vilified Cubs fan Steve Bartman.
This was an evening that would have made Harry Caray smile. Cubs win!
Chicago defeated the Nationals, 3-1, last night before 27,581 at Nationals Park to win its second in a row of this series.
The second night of Jim Riggleman's tenure as Washington's interim manager did not look any better than the first. The Nationals failed to hit, and they sometimes looked sloppy in the field, with Alberto González committing an error in the first inning and Ryan Zimmerman almost throwing away another third-to-first grounder in the ninth.
There were two positives for Washington. The first was Nyjer Morgan, who continued his hot play since joining the Nationals by going 3 for 5. The other was that Washington's maligned bullpen did give away the lead.
But that is because it was ugly from the start for the Nationals. On the evening's first pitch, Fukudome doubled down the first base line. On the evening's third pitch, Ryan Theriot hit a routine grounder to short that González could not corral.
Craig Stammen, the Nationals' starter, was unable to match his scintillating effort last time out; he had his first career complete game in his previous start. Against the Cubs last night, Stammen did not have as much success with a sinker that has been his signature pitch in his short major league career.
But he also battled in tough spots and faced the minimum three batters in three innings. He allowed two mistakes that ended up hurting him: a two-run double in the second inning and a home run to Ramírez in the third. Over six innings, Stammen allowed three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
Washington's only run came in the first inning. With two outs, the Nationals loaded the bases but emerged with little to show for it. And they can thank Zambrano, who walked Willie Harris on five pitches to score Nick Johnson.
Indeed, Washington had help putting runners on base. Johnson walked after a quality, nine-pitch at-bat. But then Adam Dunn was intentionally walked and Josh Willingham reached on an error after Theriot booted his routine ground ball at short. Harris almost provided a spark, hooking a deep shot just foul for what would have been a grand slam.
The Cubs, however, scored their first runs with a flourish. Off the bat of a not-so-unlikely source, Zambrano, Chicago took a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Zambrano drove a hanging pitch to the corner of right field for a two-run double, scoring Milton Bradley and Mike Fontenot.