Sep 3, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche (25) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
• S-A-M-A-R-D-Z-I-J-A: Chicago Cubs' center fielder Joe Mather thought it was low and probably outside of the strike zone away, but he was punched out by home plate ump Bill Miller on an 0-2 fastball from Ross Detwiler for the first out of this afternoon's game. The Nats' 26-year-old left-hander needed 10 pitches to retire the visiting Cubs in order in the top of the first inning. Chicago's starter, Jeff Samardzija, threw just six pitches in a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the inning. Detwiler returned to the mound and set the fourth-straight Cub down on a groundout to third by one-time Nat Alfonso Soriano, but Starlin Castro doubled to right for his 20th two-base hit of the season and the first hit of the game for the visiting Cubbies. Detwiler threw an ugly high bender by catcher Wellington Castillo for out no.2 of the second and K no.2 of the game, then went 3-0 to Josh Vitters and walked the third baseman before inducing a groundout to second by David Sappelt to end a 16-pitch second inning in the nation's capital.
• LABOMB!!!: Adam LaRoche's 25th home run of 2012 landed in the second deck in right field, high above the Nats' bullpen, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. As the MASN broadcast noted it was LaRoche's second home run in back-to-back at bats against Samardzija after he homered off the Cubs' right-hander in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to Chicago back on April 8, 2012 during the series finale of the opening series of the 2012 season in Wrigley Field. Danny Espinosa lined a low 2-0 fastball to right for his first hit of the day and his 7th in his last 16 ABs over a four-game hit streak. Kurt Suzuki walked with two down to bring Detwiler up and turn the lineup over, but the left-handed hitting and throwing pitcher K'd swinging to end the second...
• Nationals' Defense: Jayson Werth made an over-the-shoulder basket catch on a fly to right by Samardzija in first AB of the third. Ryan Zimmerman fielded a weak grounder behind the mound and made a strong running throw to Adam LaRoche to get Joe Mather and Danny Espinosa made a nice play on an inning-ending groundout to second by Darwin Barney to end an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd by Ross Detwiler that the lefty up to 37 pitches after 3.0 scoreless in D.C. Jayson Werth sent a 96 mph 2-0 fastball back up the middle for a leadoff hit in the Nationals' third, but he was forced out on a grounder to second by Bryce Harper, who was stranded at first two outs later after Zim lined and LaRoche struck out to end the bottom of the inning.
• Morse Makes Stretching Catch, Leaves Game: Michael Morse was back pedaling with his glove hand fully-extended when he caught a line drive to left off Anthony Rizzo's bat. Awkward. One pitch, one out for Detwiler. A high 94 mph fastball got Alfonso Soriano swinging for out no.2, but a throwing error on a high chopper to third by Starlin Castro and a two-out walk to Wellington Castillo put two runners on with two outs. The Nats' lefty got up 0-2 on Josh Vitters, however, and popped him up with an 0-2 curve to end a 15-pitch inning at 52 overall in 4.0 scoreless. Roger Bernadina hit for Michael Morse in the Nats' fourth, no word yet on why Morse left the game*. Ian Desmond singled, but got picked off by Cubs' catcher Wellington Castillo. Danny Espinosa singled with two down, but was stranded, 1-0 Nats after four.
• Update: * = Michael Morse lifted with what's described as "right-thumb soreness".
• Det Dealing: Ross Detwiler lost Dave Sappelt, walking the Cubs' right fielder to start the fifth after starting up 0-2. Jeff Samardzija managed to get a two-strike bunt down to advance the runner to second and a fly to left by Joe Mather moved Sappelt to third, but he was stranded there when Darwin Barney flew out to right to end the Cubs' fifth. 18-pitch inning by Detwiler. 70 overall in 5.0 scoreless. Detwiler, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper went down in order in a 12-pitch fifth by Samardzija. Still 1-0 Nats after five. Alfonso Soriano singled through short for the Cubs' third hit of the game off Detwiler with one down in the Cubs' sixth, but a 6-4-3 DP ended Detwiler's sixth scoreless after 13 pitches with the left-hander at 83 pitches overall. Roger Bernadina lined a single to left with two down in the Nats' sixth, and went first-to-third™ on the second-straight two-out hit by Ian Desmond. Danny Espinosa K'd swinging at a high 96 mph heater, however, and the Nationals took their 1-0 lead to the 7th.
• 7.0 Scoreless: Wellington Castillo lined an 0-1 sinker to center for a leadoff hit in the Cubs' seventh, but Josh Vitters popped out to LaRoche at first and Dave Sappelt grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 [Zim. Can. Pick It.] to end a 10-pitch top of the frame for Ross Detwiler, who was at 93 pitches overall after 7.0 scoreless innings... Chad Tracy hit for Detwiler in the bottom of the seventh...
• Ross Detwiler's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 93 P, 62 S, 9/5 GO/FO.
... Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy and Jayson Werth went down in order in the bottom of the seventh and the Nats took their 1-0 lead to the 8th, with Drew Storen called upon to take over for Detwiler there.
• STOREN TIME: Nats' right-hander Drew Storen gave up a long fly to center by David DeJesus that Bryce Harper caught as he collided with the center field wall. Storen dropped a 1-2 slider in on pinch hitter Brett Jackson for a called strike three then popped Darwin Barney up to end a nine-pitch 8th. Still 1-0 Nats. Bryce Harper singled to center off Cubs' lefty Jeff Beliveau in the bottom of the eighth, then scored from first on a double to left by Ryan Zimmerman, speeding around the bases and reaching home without a throw to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead over the Cubs after eight.
• Ready or Not: Tyler Clippard entered the game in the ninth looking for save no.30 of 2012. Anthony Rizzo lined a hanging bender to right for a leadoff single in the top of the ninth. Alfonso Soriano battled but flew out to Bryce Harper in left-center for out no.1 ONE!!! Starlin Castro flew to right for out no.2. TWO!!! Wellington Castillo... singled to short center to bring Rizzo in and make it a 2-1 game, but Josh Vitters K'd swinging to end it. 1-2-3 the Nationals win. Clippard saves no.30. The Nats win no. 82.
• Miss The Game? The D.C. Faithful Were Watching...
• Doghouse's Post Game WPA Graph: COMING SOON!! W00T!!!
Nationals now 82-52.