Nationals 7, Cubs 4: Cubs blow it in 8th inning
AP April 7, 2012 5:10PM
Chicago Cubs infielders, from left, Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart, Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker react as they watch a relief pitcher Shawn Camp during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Chicago, Saturday, April 7, 2012. The Nationals won 7-4. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: April 7, 2012 8:39PM
Adam LaRoche homered and matched a career-high with four hits, and the Washington Nationals again rallied late against Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, scoring five runs in the eighth to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-4 on Saturday.
LaRoche drove a two-run shot off Matt Garza in the fourth. The Cubs chased Gio Gonzalez with three in the bottom half to go up 4-2. But Washington sent up 11 batters in the eighth and hammered Wood (0-1) and Marmol again after they faltered in a 2-1 loss on Thursday.
Danny Espinosa started the winning rally with a two-out solo homer in the eighth off Wood, who walked three straight to force in the tying run in the opener.
Marmol came on after back-to-back singles by Ryan Zimmerman and LaRoche but fared no better after taking the loss on Thursday. He immediately walked Jayson Werth to load the bases before giving up a two-run single to Chad Tracy, putting Washington up 5-4. Roger Bernardina then doubled in Werth, and Marmol left to loud boos after Wilson Ramos walked.
Shawn Camp then gave up an RBI infield single to Steve Lombardozzi, who led off the inning with a ground out, before retiring Ian Desmond on a fly to right to end the inning.
Ryan Mattheus (1-0) got the win. Henry Rodriguez struck out three in the ninth, and four relievers combined to shut out the Cubs over the final 5 1-3 innings after Gonzalez struggled.
An All-Star and 16-game winner last season, he gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks in 3 2-3 innings.
Matt Garza pitched five-hit ball over six innings, but the Cubs wasted another start after Ryan Dempster shut down Washington in the opener. Garza’s only glitch for him was LaRoche’s drive halfway up the foul pole in right that gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead.
That certainly was a good sign for the Nationals, considering he hit just .172 with three homers in 43 games last year before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left shoulder after signing with Washington. For a team eyeing a playoff run after finishing third in the NL East, that certainly was a good sign.
NOTES: 1B Bryan LaHair, who pinch hit for Garza, was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a minor back issue. He is expected to start on Sunday. Jeff Baker got the nod at first again in his place. ... The Cubs selected veteran right-hander Rodrigo Lopez’s contract from Triple-A Iowa and outrighted infielder Luis Valbuena to the minor league club. ... Nationals 1B-OF Michael Morse traveled to New York Saturday for back treatment and is expected to return to Double-A Harrisburg to finish his rehab. Morse is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on April 10 while the Nationals are visiting the New York Mets. ... Jordan Zimmermann starts Sunday for Washington, with Jeff Samardzija pitching for the Cubs. Zimmermann was 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA in 26 starts in his first year back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow before getting shut down. This will be the sixth career start for Samardzija after spending four seasons in the bullpen.