Game Seventy-Eight: Cubs 7, Nationals 2
WP – Jason Hammel (7-5) LP – Tanner Roark (7-5) Save – None
Rick Renteria received production from unexpected sources Friday afternoon as the Cubs beat the Nationals in the second game of the series Friday afternoon. John Baker drove in four of the Cubs’ seven runs and Ryan Sweeney delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fourth that broke a 2-2 tie and ended up being the game winner.
John Baker (3-for-3 with a double, four RBI, a run scored and a walk) entered play Friday with four RBI on the season and Baker equaled his season total in one afternoon. Baker singled in Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a walk) and tied the game at one in the second inning and delivered a bases clearing double in the seventh that put the game away.
Ryan Sweeney (2-for-5 with two RBI) delivered the go ahead hit in the fourth that plated Chris Coghlan (2-for-4 with two runs scored) and John Baker.
The bottom of the Cubs lineup went 7-for-14 with one double, five RBI and three runs scored.
Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in the Cubs second run in the second inning and Justin Ruggiano (2-for-5 with a double and a run scored) scored on John Baker’s bases clearing double in the seventh.
The Cubs scored seven runs on 13 hits on a day Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5) and Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) were not factors at the plate.
Jason Hammel put together another very good outing in what might have been his last start of the season in a Cubs’ uniform at Wrigley Field. Hammel struggled a little early but was able to limit the damage in the second inning. Hammel made only two mistakes on the afternoon, a run scoring double by Ryan Zimmerman in the second and a solo homer by Adam LaRoche in the fourth.
Jason Hammel shut the door after LaRoche’s solo shot in the fourth. Hammel found a rhythm, kept the ball down and threw strikes. Hammel retired 10 batters in a row before surrendering a one-out single to Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Rick Renteria went to his pen as soon as Hammel gave up the hit to Ramos and Brian Schlitter closed out the seventh with three pitches.
Jason Hammel gave up two runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Hammel threw 101 pitches, 64 for strikes, in 6 1/3 innings.
Brian Schlitter, Wesley Wright and Justin Grimm wrapped up the game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 34-44 on the season.
Adam LaRoche has always hit well against Cubs’ pitching and he led off the second with a single to center on a 2-0 pitch. Ryan Zimmerman followed and pulled Hammel’s first pitch into left. LaRoche lumbered around the bases and was waived in to his surprise. LaRoche slid in just ahead of Castro’s throw … 1-0 Nationals. Zimmerman went to third on the play and Hammel was in trouble. Hammel jumped ahead of Ramos 0-2 before missing with a 3-2 pitch and walking him. With runners on the corners and no outs, Ian Desmond chopped a 0-1 pitch toward third. Valbuena fielded the ball cleanly and threw home. Baker caught the ball and tagged Zimmerman out … the second time in two days Zimmerman made an out at the plate. With runners on first and second with one out, a 0-1 pitch in the dirt to Espinosa got away from Baker. Both runners moved up ninety feet. Hammel struck out Danny Espinosa and retired Tanner Roark on a tap back to the mound to end the inning. Hammel avoided a big inning and threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes, over the first two innings.
Luis Valbuena led off the second with a double into the right field corner. Chris Coghlan reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Desmond did an excellent job of getting to the ball and keeping it on the infield, but he did not have a play at first and put the ball in his back pocket. John Baker stepped in with runners on first and second with no outs and hit a sharp single back up the middle and into center. Valbuena scored and tied the game at one … and Coghlan held at third with no outs. Darwin Barney blooped a single into center. Coghlan scored, 2-1 Cubs. With runners on first and second with no outs, Jason Hammel bunted the ball back to the mound. Roark picked it up and threw a strike to third that nailed Baker. Hammel beat the throw to first. Ryan Sweeney popped out to short and Ruggiano struck out swinging to end the inning. The Cubs made Tanner Roark work and it took him 51 pitches, 38 for strikes, to complete two innings Friday afternoon.
After two innings, the Cubs led 2-1.
The game remained 2-1 Cubs until it was time for Adam LaRoche to hit again. LaRoche led off the fourth with a solo home run to right. LaRoche hit a rocket into the basket in right and tied the game at two. Hammel settled back in and retired Zimmerman, Ramos and Desmond in order to end the inning. Hammel needed 64 pitches, 40 for strikes, to complete four innings.
Chris Coghlan led off the Cubs’ fourth with a single to right on the first pitch from Roark. John Baker singled to left for his second hit of the game. With runners on first and second and no outs, Barney hit a slow roller toward short. Desmond had only one play, to first, and both runners advanced ninety feet. With runners on second and third, Hammel struck out swinging. Ryan Sweeney lined a 0-1 pitch into left. Coghlan and Baker scored, 4-2 Cubs. Justin Ruggiano singled to left but Rizzo popped out to center to end the inning … 76 pitches for Roark after four innings, 56 for strikes.
The Cubs led 4-2 after four innings.
And the game remained 4-2 until the seventh inning. Jason Hammel shut down the Nationals in the fifth and sixth before Rick Renteria went to his pen for Brian Schlitter to record the final two outs in the seventh.
Former Cubs’ farmhand Jerry Blevins took over for Tanner Roark in the seventh. Justin Ruggiano led off the inning with a double off the ivy in left center. A wild pitch with Rizzo at the plate allowed Ruggiano to take third. Matt Williams brought his infield in. Rizzo hit a blooper behind the second base bag. Ian Desmond raced out and made an over the shoulder catch for the first out. Blevins intentionally walked Starlin Castro. And Luis Valbuena worked a walk (3-2 pitch) to load the bases. Chris Coghlan looked at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Coghlan did not like the call, but it was a strike. John Baker stepped in with the bags loaded and two outs. Baker pulled a 0-1 pitch into the right field corner. Ruggiano, Castro and Valbuena all scored, 7-2 Cubs. Matt Williams decided that was enough for Blevins and went to his pen for Aaron Barrett. Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.
After seven complete, the Cubs led 7-2.
Wesley Wright kept the Nationals off the board in the eighth and Justin Grimm pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Cubs play a day-night doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals at Wrigley Field. Dallas Beeler makes his big league debut against Gio Gonzalez in game one (12:05pm CDT) and Jeff Samardzija faces Blake Treinen in game two (6:15pm CDT) under the lights.