Cubs 5-3 over Nationals in a foggy Wrigley Field

David Banks

On a foggy night in Chicago, the Cubs beat the visiting Washington Nationals 5-3 with a two-run double by Justin Ruggiano the difference in the series opener in Wrigley Field. The Nats fell to 41-37 with their second straight loss.

Chicago, in fashion, the soft drinks, expansion. Oh Columbia! Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: It was a foggy night in the Windy City, where the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs started a four-game set in Wrigley Field. It was scoreless through three and a half before the home team struck with Justin Ruggiano (single to third), Anthony Rizzo (double to right) and Starlin Castro (broken-bat, two-run single to left) connecting for three straight hits off Nats' right-hander Doug Fister.

Castro drove two runs in with his single and then scored from second on a single to center by Cubs' catcher Welington Castillo that made it 3-0 Cubs after five.

The Nationals got on the board in the sixth with Denard Span doubling to start the inning and scoring on a single to right by Anthony Rendon in the next at bat.

Denard Span doubled to right off Wood in the seventh, bouncing one off the ivy-covered, fog-enshrouded wall to drive two runs in after back-to-back walks to Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa and a sac bunt by Doug Fister.

3-3 game after six and a half.

5-3 game after seven, as the Cubs scored two on Craig Stammen with Darwin Barney doubling, Chris Coghlan walking and Justin Ruggiano driving htem both in with a line drive to left field.

That's how it ended.

4. Fister in Wrigley: Doug Fister pitched in the American League for the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers in his first five MLB campaigns before the trade this winter that brought the 30-year-old right-hander to Washington, so he's never had the opportunity to pitch in historic Wrigley Field, the 100-year-old ballpark which opened on April 23, 1914.

Before tonight's start in Chicago, he'd never faced the Cubs either.

"He controlled the strike zone. All of his pitches for strikes. Working ahead in the count. All of those things that pitchers do when they go deep into a game." -Matt Williams on Doug Fister vs Atlanta

Fister took the mound tonight in Chicago coming off a dominant outing against Atlanta in D.C. in which the 6'8'' starter held the Braves scoreless over eight innings in which he walked one, struck out three, gave up five hits and induced 12 groundouts from the 31 batters he faced.

That start left the first-year National with a (6-2) record, a 2.65 ERA, 4.12 FIP, six walks (0.94 BB/9) and 36 Ks (5.62 K/9) in nine starts and 57 ⅔ IP. In four June starts before this evening's, Fister put up a 1.93 ERA, a 4.21 FIP, four walks (1.29 BB/9) and 13 Ks (4.18 K/9) in 28 IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .226/.278/.376 line.

The Nationals were coming off a 13-inning game against the Braves when Fister took the mound this past Saturday in the nation's capital and spared the Nats' bullpen for a day with his eight innings of work.

Matt Williams praised Fister's effort after the 3-0 win over their NL East division rivals.

"He controlled the strike zone," Williams said. "All of his pitches for strikes. Working ahead in the count. All of those things that pitchers do when they go deep into a game. He did that tonight. Really stepped up for the bullpen too."

Fister's 10th start of the season and his first in Wrigley Field began with a groundout to third.

1st: Ryan Sweeney grounded to Anthony Rendon for the first out of the Cubs' first. Justin Ruggiano rolled out no.2 out to Danny Espinosa at second. Anthony Rizzo popped one up into the fog that neither Rendon or Ryan Zimmerman could catch. Starlin Castro stepped in with a runner on and flew out to center where Denard Span caught out no.3 of a 12-pitch inning.

2nd: Luis Valbuena K'd swinging over a 77 mph 3-2 change. Welington Castillo flew out to right-center where Denard Span made an underhand basket catch. Nate Schierholtz battled for nine pitches but popped out to short to end a 24-pitch frame that left Fister at 36 total after two.

3rd: Darwin Barney grounded out to short and Travis Wood and Ryan Sweeney flew out to center to end a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 3rd. 43 pitches total after three.

4th: Anthony Rendon threw wide of first on a grounder to third by Justin Ruggiano, who was given a hit. Anthony Rizzo doubled by first to put runners on second and third with no outs. Starlin Castro hit a broken-bat liner to left to bring both runners in and make it 2-0 Cubs. Luis Valbuena popped to third for the first out of the inning. A wild pitch with Welington Castillo up moved Castro to second, and an RBI single to center brought him in for a 3-0 Cubs' lead. Nate Schierholtz worked the count full but popped out to left. Darwin Barney battled for nine pitches before grounding out to second to end a 39-pitch inning that left Fister at 82 pitches.

5th: Travis Wood popped out to short. Ryan Sweeney grounded out to the mound and Justin Ruggiano flew out to right to end a quick, seven-pitch inning. 89 total after five.

6th: Anthony Rizzo was 3 for 3 vs Doug Fister tonight after he singled to right to start the Cubs' half of the sixth inning. Starling Castro sent a grounder to third in the next at bat and Anthony Rendon started a 5-4-3 twin killing. Luis Valbuena flew to center field with two down on a fly that Denard Span couldn't see at all. Triple. Span saw Welington Castillo's fly to center in the next at bat and the Nats' center fielder caught it to end a 13-pitch frame that left Fister at 102 pitches.

Doug Fister's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 102 P, 72 S, 6/4 GO/FO.

3. vs LHP: Before taking on Cubs' lefty Travis Wood in the first game of four with Chicago in Wrigley Field tonight, the Nationals' .280/.339/.409 line vs LHPs was good for the second-highest average vs lefties in the National League behind the Colorado Rockies (.290 AVG), first in the NL in OBP (tied with the Rockies) and sixth in slugging percentage amongst NL teams so far in 2014.

Wood, 27, started the night (7-6) in 15 starts with a 4.55 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 34 walks (3.44 BB/9) and 73 Ks (7.38 K/9) in 89 IP, over which he'd held opposing hitters to a combined .253/.326/.385 line.

In seven starts in Wrigley Field in 2014 before tonight's Wood was (3-2) with a 2.93 ERA which was significantly lower than his 6.07 ERA on the road and a 3.36 FIP vs his 4.77 FIP on the road.

The one-time Reds' 2nd Round pick (2005) who was acquired by the Cubs in the 2011 deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, walked 15 (3.14 BB/9) and struck out 46 (9.63 K/9) in 43 IP at home before his latest outing, over which he held opposing hitters to a .198/.277/.325 line as opposed to the .295/.368/.436 line hitters put up when he pitched away from home.

Tonight's start against the Nationals was just the second vs Washington in Wood's five-year major league career. He faced the Nats in Nationals Park last August 22nd, giving up seven hits, two walks and four earned runs in 6 ⅔ IP in a 5-4 loss.

Wood threw 99 pitches in 4 ⅔ IP last time out this season, giving up four hits, three walks and three earned runs in his brief time on the mound against the Pirates. In four June starts, he'd put up a 2.96 ERA with 13 walks (4.81 BB/9) and 15 Ks (5.55 K/9) in 24 ⅓ IP in which he held opposing hitters to a .225/.327/.337 line.

Ryan Zimmerman doubled to start the second after a scoreless 19-pitch first by Wood and Junior Lake hit the wall hard going after it, sliding hard into the metal door that leads to the batting cages behind the ivy. Lake left the game. One out later, Zimmerman tried to score on a line drive to left by Wilson Ramos, but Cubs' left fielder Ryan Sweeney hit the cutoff man and Luis Valbuena's relay to the catcher Welington Castillo beat Zimmerman home. "You're out!" home plate ump Mike DiMuro signaled. Wood gave up a two-out walk to Danny Espinosa, but completed his second scoreless when Doug Fister flew out to right. 14-pitch frame, 33 total after two.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Wood at 44 pitches after three. The Nationals went down in order on 12 pitches in the fourth, 56.

Wood gave up a leadoff single to left by Wilson Ramos in the fifth, but got a double play grounder out of Danny Espinosa and a swinging K from Doug Fister to end a quick, seven-pitch frame which left him at 63 pitches.

Denard Span doubled to start the fourth and Anthony Rendon followed with a single to right to drive Span in and make it a 3-1 game. Wood needed 20 pitches to get through the inning, so he was up to 83 pitches after six.

Wilson Ramos and Danny Espinosa took back-to-back walks in the first two at bats of the seventh and moved up on a bunt by Doug Fister before Denard Span lined to right in the next at bat, taking a 1-1 cutter from Wood for a ride. Two runs scored, but Span was thrown out at second. That was it for Wood. 3-3 game.

Travis Wood's Line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 4 Ks, 98 P, 57 S, 8/1 GO/FO.

2. Return of the Buffalo: Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos was 18 for 52 (.346/.393/.500) with five doubles, a home run and hits in 11 of 13 games before he suffered a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring running out his second double of the night in a June 10th game against teh San Francisco Giants in AT&T Park.

The injury led to the second DL stint of the year for 26-year-old backstop, who suffered a broken hamate bone in his left hand on Opening Day in Citi Field in New York.

Ramos made four rehab appearances in the Nationals' system before he returned from the Disabled List this afternoon, going 7 for 16 over two games with the Potomac Nationals and two with the Harrisburg Senators.

In 24 games and 102 plate appearances before the DL stint, Ramos put up a .261/.314/.370 line with seven doubles and a home run.

In his return from the DL tonight, Ramos lined to left with Ryan Zimmerman on second base in the second inning, but the Nats' left fielder was thrown out at home. In his second bat of the night, Ramos lined a second single to left, but he was doubled up on a 6-4-3 off Danny Espinosa's bat.

Ramos walked the third time up, 2 for 2, BB, and scored on a Denard Span double.

The Nats' catcher got one more at bat in the ninth, but grounded out to second. 2 for 3, BB.

• He's coming:

1. The Wrap-Up: Cubs' right-hander Neil Ramirez took over on the mound after Travis Wood gave up a two-run, one-out, game-tying double to right by Denard Span and Ramirez popped Anthony Rendon up to end the top of the seventh.

Craig Stammen took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh, gave up a double by Darwin Barney on a line drive to left and a one-out walk to Chris Coghlan, and one out later gave up a two-run double to left by Justin Ruggiano, who was thrown out at third after giving the Cubs a 5-3 lead.

Pedro Strop gave up a one-out bunt single by Adam LaRoche, who laid one down when the Cubs went into the dramatic shift against him. But LaRoche was doubled up to end the inning on a Ryan Zimmerman grounder to third base.

Stammen came back with a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.

Hector Rondon came on looking for his ninth save and retired the side in order. Ballgame.

Nationals now 41-37

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