Cubs beat Nationals 4-2 at Wrigley Field
CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs kept up their power surge Wednesday night, and it continued at Wrigley Field, too.
Reed Johnson enjoyed the location most of all.
Johnson, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto homered and Chicago beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 for its eighth victory in its last 10 games.
The disappointing Cubs have little to play for over the final two months of the season, but Johnson is glad the club is finally putting on a show for the Wrigley faithful.
"It's better for us and it's better for our fans," Johnson said. "I know we haven't been too impressive really at all in any part of the year. ... We're playing pretty good baseball now. I'm glad fans are getting to see that."
Johnson also had three singles in his seventh career four-hit game. Soriano also doubled and drove in two runs, and Soto scored twice.
The Cubs have connected in eight straight games and have hit 19 home runs over that stretch.
Chicago starter Rodrigo Lopez (3-3) allowed two runs, one earned, and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He gave up 12 earned runs over 8 1-3 innings in his previous two starts.
"I think I had a good game going on," Lopez said. "I wish I could go longer, but I guess there was a good reason (to be removed) after my last two outings. I come out with a good feeling about myself and at the end, it works for all of us."
Carlos Marmol struck out three in a scoreless ninth for his 25th save in 32 chances. The Cubs' bullpen, which has been dominating at times this season, racked up 3 1-3 scoreless innings.
"They're good and they're really good when they're fresh," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of his relievers.
Ross Detwiler (1-2) pitched five innings for Washington, yielding three runs and seven hits. He dropped to 0-8 in 16 career road appearances, including 10 starts.
"It's not one thing," Detwiler said of his road woes. "It's a pitch here, a pitch there, not getting a bunt down. Little things."
Jayson Werth hit a solo home run and singled for Washington.
"(Lopez has) been pitching a long time, he knows what he's doing out there," Werth said. "He was moving the ball around, changed speeds. Just kept us off balance.
"I was able to get one up in the air. This time of year in Chicago, if you get one up, usually it will go. The ball was flying today, unfortunately we were just on the other side."
The Nationals scored first, getting an unearned run in the opening inning on a throwing error by shortstop Starlin Castro that let Ryan Zimmerman score all the way from first.
The Cubs have surrendered 90 first-inning runs this season, most in the big leagues. Castro's miscue was the Cubs' 95th error on the season, most in the National League.
Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 18 games. That's the second longest for the Nationals in the seven seasons since they moved to Washington from Montreal. Zimmerman had a 30-game hitting streak in 2009.
The Cubs tied it in the second when Soto led off with his 12th homer of the season, a shot that sneaked into the first row of the bleachers inside the left-field foul pole.
"Right now everything seems to be going the right direction," Soto said.
Chicago took the lead in the fourth but missed a chance at a big inning. Soto walked with one out and scored on Soriano's bloop double off the right-field line that a sliding Werth just missed running down.
"I just put my head down and kept running," Soto said.
Washington then intentionally Darwin Barney with the pitcher on deck, but Lopez singled to center. The slow-running Soriano was unable to score on the play, leaving the bases loaded for Castro, the NL hits leader. Castro struck out, ending the threat.
Johnson led off the fifth with his fifth homer, putting the Cubs up 3-1.
"I kind of rolled a couple through the hole early and it started to relax me a little bit," Johnson said.
Werth responded with his 14th homer, a drive into the bleachers in left-center in the sixth. That was it for Lopez, who departed after 89 pitches.
"There are times when you want to get a guy out of there when he's feeling good about himself," Quade said. "After the home run, it was a little earlier than I wanted to go to (reliever Jeff) Samardzija, but it happens."
Detwiler was pulled after throwing 84 pitches. Nationals manager Davey Johnson gave him passing marks, but just barely, noting Detwiler had only been starting for a short while.
"He's been in the bullpen," Johnson said. "I give him a C-plus for tonight. The two ballparks he's pitched in lately, you have to be perfect, you can't make any mistakes. He minimized the damage tonight."
Soriano connected against Collin Balester with one out in the sixth, hitting a drive to left-center for his 20th homer. Soriano has homered at least 20 times in 10 straight seasons, joining St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Boston's David Ortiz as the only players to reach that mark in each season of the last decade.
"I'm very proud of myself because I work hard and try to be consistent in this game," Soriano said. "I never expected to hit 20 home runs in this game but I did. I think it's because of the hard work and concentration and the love that I have for the game."
Nationals beat Cubs, Wang throws 6 scoreless
CHICAGO (AP) - A small group of people started to assemble outside the visitors' clubhouse in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field.
When Chicago's Alfonso Soriano popped out to center field to end the game, the crowd - now upward of 75 people - erupted.
Desperate to get a peek of the Washington Nationals as they climbed the stairs to the clubhouse, the crowd spotted Chien-Ming Wang and began chanting his name.
Wang allowed one hit over six scoreless innings, Jonny Gomes hit a two-run homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Cubs 3-1 on Tuesday night.
In his third start - and first on the road - after missing more than two years following shoulder surgery, Wang (1-2) won for the first time since June 28, 2009, against the New York Mets as a member of the Yankees.
"I told you I expected him to be better than he was the second time," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, grinning.
Wang didn't allow a hit until pinch-hitter Tony Campana, who initially tried to lay down a bunt, led off the sixth with a hard liner off Morse's mitt at first. Campana beat out second baseman's Danny Espinosa's throw at first with Wang covering.
After Campana stole second, Wang quickly regrouped. He retired Castro and Darwin Barney on fly outs then ended his outing by getting Blake Dewitt to ground out to second on his 81st pitch.
"I was impressed the first time because I didn't think I'd see him with that free of a delivery and be able to hang in there for as long as he did. It was better the second time and I expected the progress to be better this time," Johnson said. "It was very impressive. Eighty pitches for six innings? That's vintage."
Wang's performance certainly brought back memories of his 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Yankees when he went 19-6 and 19-7, respectively.
Wang effectively used his sinker, while issuing two walks and hitting a batter with one strikeout.
"The last two outings, my sinker wasn't that good, so the ball wasn't getting down. That's why they got me," Wang said through an interpreter. "In the bullpen session, I was working on the release point. I think that's why I had a good outing today."
In his last start, Wang gave up six runs, two earned, in five innings against the Braves, but Johnson was encouraged. In his season debut Wang was tagged for four runs in four innings against the Mets on the two-year anniversary of his shoulder surgery.
"I'm really happy because (the fans) have been supporting me during these two years even though I wasn't pitching," Wang said, recognizing his fan club anxiously waiting below.
Michael Morse added a long home run and Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 17 games for the Nationals, who have won three of four.
The Cubs have lost consecutive games after winning a season-high seven straight.
Starlin Castro scored the lone run on his sixth home run in the eighth. Castro has homered in consecutive games and it was his 10th straight game with a run scored.