Cubs Offense Provides the Fireworks in Win over the Nationals – Cubs 7, Nationals 2

Game Eighty-Four: Cubs 7, Nationals 2

WP – Jason Hammel (8-5) LP – Tanner Roark (7-6) Save – None

wflag-pub2014The Cubs played an all-around good game Friday morning into the afternoon at Nationals Park. Jason Hammel was able to keep the Nationals in check while the offense put runs on the board early against Tanner Roark and pulled away late as the Cubs beat the Nationals on the Fourth of July.

A game after scoring 16 runs on 19 hits in the finale in Boston, the offense scored seven runs on 14 hits Friday against the Nationals. And put the ball in play early in the game to plate runs without the benefit of a basehit.

But it was another hit from a Cubs’ starting pitcher that put the team in the lead Friday. Jason Hammel (1-for-3 with a RBI) collected a hit and a RBI when he singled off Tanner Roark’s backside and Nate Schierholtz (2-for-4 with a run scored) scored when the ball rolled past Ian Desmond and into left field.

The game was much closer than the final score. The Cubs broke a 4-2 game open with three runs in the ninth on run scoring hits from Justin Ruggiano and Starlin Castro.

Chris Coghlan (2-for-4 with a double and three runs scored) started the game off with a single and scored the Cubs first run when Anthony Rizzo (0-for-5 with a RBI) grounded into a double play. Coghlan’s aggressiveness on the bases led to two of the Cubs first four runs. Coghlan ran on Jayson Werth in the first inning and advanced to third and in the fifth inning he scored from third when Rizzo grounded out to first base.

Justin Ruggiano (3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored) hit his fourth home run, second in as many games, in the third inning. Ruggiano singled in Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a run scored) in the ninth with the Cubs fifth run.

Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with a double and two RBI) had another good game at the plate and in the field. Castro doubled in the eighth and drove in two runs with a two-out single in the ninth.

Jason Hammel beat the Nationals once again (8-0 in 10 career starts against the Nationals) in what could have been his last start of the season in a Cubs’ uniform. Hammel made only one mistake in the six-plus innings he was on the hill. Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first off Hammel that tied the game at one. Hammel pitched his way out of a big jam in the fifth and retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts in the sixth inning. Hammel turned the game over to Neil Ramirez in the seventh after Anthony Rendon led off the inning with a double.

Jason Hammel was charged with two runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Hammel threw 92 pitches, 54 for strikes, in six-plus innings.

Neil Ramirez allowed the second run to score when he gave up a hit to Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Ramirez struck out two of the four batters he faced and Pedro Strop worked around a one-out double by Jayson Werth in the eighth. Brian Schlitter pitched a scoreless ninth.

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs have won four in a row and are 18-13 since June 1. For the season, the Cubs are 38-46.

Chris Coghlan led off the game with a single to right. Justin Ruggiano followed with a single to right and Coghlan ran on Jayson Werth. Coghlan went to third and his aggressiveness on the bases led to a run. With runners on the corners and no outs, Anthony Rizzo grounded into a 6-3 double play. Coghlan scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Starlin Castro lined out to short for the third out. Tanner Roark threw only 11 pitches in the first inning, seven for strikes.

Jason Hammel retired Denard Span (grounder to first) and Bryce Harper (liner to left) for the first two outs in the first frame. Hammel fell behind Werth 3-1 and Jayson Werth tied the game on Hammel’s next pitch. Werth hit a solo homer to left, the ball got out of the park in a hurry and the game was tied at one. Adam LaRoche grounded out to Rizzo to end the inning. Hammel needed 13 pitches, seven for strikes, to get through the first inning.

After one complete, the game was tied at one.

PrintLuis Valbuena struck out swinging to start the second inning. Nate Schierholtz singled to right center and advanced to second on a John Baker single to left. With two on and one out, Darwin Barney blooped out to right. Jason Hammel stepped in and smoked Roark’s first pitch back up the middle. The ball hit Roark in the backside and ricocheted into left field. Schierholtz scored, 2-1 Cubs. Coghlan worked a full count before fouling out to Ryan Zimmerman near the stands to end the inning. Roark threw 28 pitches, 19 for strikes, over the first two innings.

Jason Hammel faced the minimum in the second (21 pitches, 13 for strikes) … and after two innings, the Cubs led 2-1.

Justin Ruggiano led off the third and drove a 2-0 pitch out to right. The ball ended up beyond the wall and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead on Ruggiano’s fourth homer of the season.  Roark retired Rizzo (strikeout looking), Castro (pop out to center) and Valbuena (pop out to short) in order to end the inning … 38 pitches for Roark after three innings, 26 for strikes.

Jason Hammel gave up a two-out double to Denard Span in the third, but that was all. Hammel struck out Bryce Harper swinging to end the inning. Hammel needed 39 pitches, 23 for strikes, to complete three frames Friday morning.

The Cubs had a 3-1 lead after three innings.

Chris Coghlan led off the fifth inning of a 3-1 game with a double into the right field corner off Tanner Roark. Justin Ruggiano struck out swinging but Coghlan advanced to third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Anthony Rizzo hit a grounder toward first. Coghlan broke on contact. LaRoche fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and threw home. Coghlan scored and the Cubs took a 4-1 lead. Castro struck out swinging to end the inning. Roark needed 65 pitches, 46 for strikes, to complete five innings Friday afternoon.

Jason Hammel took the hill in the fifth with a three-run lead and gave up a leadoff single to Ian Desmond and walked Wilson Ramos. Hammel lost his command and missed with his first three pitches to Roark. Hammel got one over before Roark made an awkward looking bunt attempt on the fifth pitch of the at bat. Roark bunted the 3-2 foul for the first out. Denard Span pulled a 2-1 pitch down the first baseline. Rizzo fielded the ball and threw to second and forced Ramos. With runners on the corners and two outs, Hammel struck out Bryce Harper swinging to end the inning. Hammel threw 75 pitches in five innings, 44 for strikes.

After five innings, the Cubs had a 4-1 lead.

The game remained 4-1 Cubs until the bottom of the seventh. Jason Hammel threw 90 pitches, 53 for strikes, over the first six innings and took the hill to start the seventh.

Anthony Rendon led off the seventh with a double into the left field corner. Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Hammel and went to his pen for Neil Ramirez. Ramirez struck out Ian Desmond swinging (3-2 pitch) for the first out. Wilson Ramos blooped a single into right center. Rendon scored, closed the book on Hammel and made it a 4-2 Cubs lead. Ramirez struck out pinch-hitter Nate McLouth and retired Denard Span on a pop out to Castro in shallow left to end the inning.

The Cubs were not able to add onto their lead in the eight despite a double from Starlin Castro. And Pedro Strop worked around a one-out double by Jayson Werth in the eighth without allowing the Nationals to chip into the lead.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 4-2 lead.

Ross Detwiler stayed in for the ninth inning and retired John Baker on a grounder to second. Darwin Barney collected his second hit of the game with a single to right. As soon as Mike Olt was announced as the pinch-hitter for Pedro Strop, Matt Williams went to his pen for righty Aaron Barrett. Rick Renteria countered with Ryan Sweeney and Sweeney doubled to left center. Barrett intentionally walked Coghlan and loaded the bases for Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano singled to left, Barney scored and the Cubs took a 5-2 lead. Matt Williams went back to his pen for lefty Jerry Blevins. Rizzo tapped back to the mound and Sweeney was forced at the plate. With the bases loaded and two down, Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch into center. Coghlan and Ruggiano scored, 7-2 Cubs. With runners on first and second, Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning.

Brian Schlitter retired the Nationals in order, with help from three excellent plays by Starlin Castro, in the ninth to end the game.

Jeff Samardzija faces Gio Gonzalez on Saturday afternoon (3:05pm CDT) at Nationals Park.

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