Overcast, and a sky made of gray/white clouds above Nationals Park today. John Lannan gets Reed Johnson swinging at a high outside change, but walks Ryan Theriot, the second batter of this afternoon tilt between the Washington Nationals and the visiting Cubs of Chicago. Lannan's not afraid to throw strikes, and a fastball outside to Derrek Lee results in an easy fly ball to right, where Austin Kearns closes his glove on it. 1-0 slider from Lannan to Aramis Ramirez, and Lannan's out of the first as Ramirez pops out to the infield...Chicago lefty Ted Lilly gets Felipe Lopez to pop out foul of first for the first out of the home half...Cristian Guzman goes down swinging, and Ryan Zimmerman's down looking, no score after one.
Fukudome flies out to center to start the second. Lannan walks Mark DeRosa in front of Ronny Cedeno. Lannan pops Cedeno up to first. Henry Blanco grounds to short, Guzman tosses to Lopez, who throws to first for the fourth out of the inning? (ed. note - "Pay attention, boys!")...Nick Johnson's got the Nationals' first hit of the day, ripping Ted Lilly's first offering to right for a single. Lastings Milledge bunts it too far down the first base line, so it's a sac bunt, instead of a hit. Austin Kearns grounds out to short. Wily Mo? Pena lines a curve to left, Johnson 'round third, Mark DeRosa fields and throws...not in time...1-0 Nationals. Wil Nieves drives a 2-2 pitch to center, Wily Mo scores, Nieves takes second on the errant throw home. 2-0 Nationals after two.
John Lannan brutalizes Ted Lilly with a breaking ball for a swinging strike three. Lannan issues his third walk of the day, (one each with one-out in the first three innings.) Ryan Theriot lifts one to left, and right into Wily Mo's glove. D. Lee backs Lopez up to the outfield grass behind second with a sharp grounder, but Lopez throws to first in time to end the Cubs' third...Ted Lilly just threw a 64 mph curve to Felipe Lopez, who pops a 2-2 pitch out to short. Another 64 mph pitch gets Guzman, who grounds out to third, and Zimmerman's down swinging. 2-0 after three.
Aramis Ramirez tests Austin Kearns in right, but Kearns makes a basket catch while running in hard for the first out of the fourth. Fukudome battles deep into the count, and then rips one to third, Zimmerman dives and gets it, jumps up and tosses to first... In TIME, for the second out. DeRosa grounds to third, Zimmerman throws to first to end the fourth scoreless by Lannan. Nick Johnson takes a leadoff walk from Lilly. Milledge pops out unproductively. Austin Kearns flies out to short left. Lilly throws fastballs right by Wily Mo Pena...
Ronny Cedeno reaches out and pushes a single to center. Henry Blanco singles through short. Lannan picks off Cedeno at second, but Nieves throws back behind the runner, allowing Cedeno to slide in safe at first, and Blanco to take second...Lannan gets Lilly swinging. Reed Johnson grounds sharply to first, Nick Johnson knocks it down, but Lannan doesn't cover....bases loaded. Ryan Theriot grounds to Guzman up the middle, Guzman steps on second, fires to first, inning ending DP. 2-0 DC. Lilly puts NIeves, Lannan and Lopez down in order to end the fifth.
Lannan issues a leadoff walk to D. Lee in the top of the sixth. Aramis Ramirez grounds back to the mound, Lannan gets the force at second, but Guzman's throw to first is late. One out. Fukudome flies to left, and Wily Mo misplays it, and has it go over his head and off the wall. Ramirez reaches third. Mark DeRosa grounds weakly to Lannan, who takes the out at first, but holds Ramirez at third...Ronny Cedeno grounds to second, six scoreless for Lannan 2-0 Nationals...Guzman blasts one off Aramis Ramirez at third and into left for a leadoff single. Zimmerman swings through a fastball for strike three. Nick Johnson walks...Milledge pops out to the infield. Austin Kearns has warning track power, Reed Johnson catches it just in front of the right field scoreboard to end the sixth.
Top of the seventh, Henry Blanco grounds out to short. Pinch hitter Matt Murton flies out to right. Lannan gets Reed Johnson to fly out to right, seven scoreless for Lannan. Stand up and stretch...Michael Wuertz takes over for Chicago in the Nationals' half of the seventh. Pena swings over a curve for strike three. Wil Nieves grounds out to third. Pinch hitter Rob Mackowiak for Lannan (7.0 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K's, 2.64 ERA)...Cubs' Manager Sweet Lou Piniella goes to the pen for a lefty, Sean Marshall. Nationals' Manager Manny Acta goes with Aaron Boone, who works a two-out walk. Lopez grounds back to the mound. 2-0 Nationals after seven.
Luis "Set-Up" Ayala throws a low slider on the outside edge by a swinging Ryan Theriot for the first out of the eigth. Ayala walks D. Lee. Ayala throws a two-strike fastball that breaks back in on Aramis Ramirez to freeze him for strike three. Fukudome grounds to Ayala, who fields and throws to end the Cubs' eigth...Kerry Wood gets a groundout to first from Cristian Guzman. Zimmerman flies out to left. Nick Johnson pops out to second. Wait for it...
The Tallest Closer in MLB History, Jon Rauch on to close it...Mark DeRosa flies out to Milledge, (who almost collides with Kearns). Ronny Cedeno grounds out to short. Daryle Ward takes a curve for a strike, swings over another, Ward holds up on a curve in the dirt...fouls one off...1-2, fouls one off, D.Ward chases a curve into the dirt...1,2,3 Nationals win. 2-0 shutout of the Chicago Cubs...
Nationals now 9-17.