Cubs’ dreams alive again after they defeated two Nationals aces
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 12, 2013 10:42PM
Chicago Cubs' Dioner Navarro follows through on his single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday, May 12, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
ROCKIES AT CUBS
The facts: 7:05 p.m., Ch. 26, 720-AM.
The starters: Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33).
the rest of the series
Tuesday: 7:05 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90) vs. Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02).
Wednesday: 7:05 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Jon Garland (3-3, 4.83) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 3.70).
Updated: May 12, 2013 11:42PM
WASHINGTON — The Cubs spent the first six weeks of the season blowing saves, stranding runners, booting grounders and making another trading-deadline roster purge inevitable. Right?
Not so fast, the Cubs say after an unlikely weekend in Washington.
After surviving no-hit bids by the Nationals’ top two pitchers to pull off victories the last two days — including 2-1 on Sunday — the Cubs headed home talking about statements and big turnarounds.
‘‘That showed a lot about the players,’’ manager Dale Sveum said of a team that saw its losing streak in Washington reach six games when ace Jeff Samardzija got hit hard in Friday’s opener. ‘‘To come back and win both games against two of the best pitchers in baseball [Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez] showed me a lot about these guys.’’
Starter Scott Feldman pitched around enough damage in the first inning to get through six, and two late-inning Cubs runs were good enough to win after Gonzalez retired the first 15 Cubs he faced.
‘‘Hopefully, it’s going to translate into some more wins,” said Feldman, whose four-start surge, 2.53 ERA and one-year contract make him the top trade candidate so far. ‘‘We start believing in each other a little more and know we can compete on a high level with a great team over there and come out and get a series win.’’
Kevin Gregg’s sixth save in as many tries also puts him on a high-value pace for the July 31 deadline.
‘‘You know things like that are possible, and you weigh all the options and what’s best for the organization,’’ Sveum said when asked how tough last year’s selloff was at a time the Cubs were playing well. ‘‘It’s not easy to see a [Ryan] Dempster and a [Paul] Maholm and these guys go somewhere else. . . . Those are the things you have to do sometimes.’’
Unless? General manager Jed Hoyer says getting back to .500 ‘‘really does change the dynamic’’ of such decisions under the two-wild-card system.
Of course, that would take .600 baseball for six or seven weeks.
‘‘We haven’t had a good run yet, but I hope this is the start of [something] good for the team,’’ Alfonso Soriano said.
Soriano scored the winner on catcher Kurt Suzuki’s error, taking third on the front end of a double steal and jogging home when Suzuki’s throw to third grazed batter Welington Castillo’s bat on the delivery. Castillo, who froze to keep from opening a clear throwing lane, smiled when asked about deserving an RBI: ‘‘If they give it to me, I’d appreciate it.’’
◆ Matt Garza could return from the disabled list in time for the Cubs-Sox series at the end of the month, depending on how an 85-to-95-pitch rehab start for Class AAA Iowa goes this week.