Tanner Roark tossed six scoreless before finally giving up some runs to the Cubs in the series opener in Chicago, but Washington Nationals’ second baseman Daniel Murphy’s two-homer game provided all the offense the Nats needed in what ended up a 4-2 win in Wrigley Field.
Murphy homered in the first, taking a 2-1 curve from Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks out to right, then got to the right-hander again in the sixth, hitting a 2-0 fastball out the other way for his
17th 18th and 18th 19th home runs of the 2017 campaign.
Murphy’s third hit of the game was a base-loading single off Carl Edwards, Jr. with no one out in the eighth, and an Anthony Rendon sac fly put the Nationals up 4-2.
Brandon Kintzler finished off the seventh for Roark. Ryan Madson worked a scoreless eighth, and Sean Doolittle handled the ninth.
Nationals now 64-43
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Heading into play today, Daniel Murphy was 1 for 15 in his last five games, after snapping a four-game hitless streak in the finale with the Marlins in Miami, but he got off to a strong start in Chicago, lining a 2-1 curve from Kyle Hendricks out to right field for a two-run home run in the first that put the Nationals up 2-0 early.
Ahem... Murphy's Bleachers. pic.twitter.com/ktImrXCZ44— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 4, 2017
• Tanner Roark issued a leadoff walk in the Cubs’ second, and Nationals’ center fielder Brian Goodwin missed a pop to short-center by Jason Heyward, but Bryce Harper was backing Goodwin up, and Roark was paying attention and hustled over to second to cover for the throw in on an 8-9-1 putout for out No. 2 of what ended up his second scoreless frame.
• Howie Kendrick was 2 for 2 today and 10 for 20 with the Nationals after he singled through short with one down in the third, and he took third base on a Bryce Harper single, but he was stranded there two outs later.
• Jon Jay walked and Kris Bryant singled with one out in the Cubs’ third, but Roark got a 5-4-3 DP out of Anthony Rizzo to end a 21-pitch inning that left him at 49 total, and a 21-pitch fourth pushed him up to 70 pitches.
• Kyle Hendricks was up to 79 pitches and seven-straight Nationals set down after he retired the side in order in the top of the fifth, and Roark was up to 75 after picking up two Ks in a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.
• Daniel Murphy got to Hendricks again in the sixth, hitting a 2-0 fastball outside out to left field for a solo shot that made it 3-0 Nationals. Murphy’s 19th.
One to right, one to left!— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 4, 2017
This is Daniel Hits Murphy's 5th career multi-HR game and 2nd of the season. pic.twitter.com/9ag26a4zjr
• Kyle Schwarber doubled to right-center to start the bottom of the seventh, taking a first-pitch curve into the gap, and he scored the easy way when Javier Baez hit a 2-1 slider belt-high inside out to left field for a two-run blast that made it a one-run game, 3-2 Nationals.
• Tanner Roark’s Line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 67 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
• Brandon Kintzler took over on the mound for Roark, and worked around a walk to preserve the Nationals’ one-run lead, 3-2 after seven.
• Kyle Hendricks’ Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 103 P, 66 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
• The Nationals threatened again in the eighth with Howie Kendrick walking, and Bryce Harper singling off Carl Edwards, Jr. to start the frame in front of Murphy, who singled to center to load’em up with no one out, and Anthony Rendon hit a sac fly (or liner) to right to bring in the fourth run, 4-2.
• Ryan Madson retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth, and got up 0-2 on Ben Zobrist before he hit him to put a runner on. Kyle Schwarber stepped in with a chance to tie it up, but went down swinging at an 0-2 heater up high.
• Sean Doolittle worked around a leadoff single to earn another save. Ballgame. Final Score: 4-2 Nationals.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Ryan Zimmerman went 0 for 12 with 5 Ks in Miami, and he’s put up a .212/.258/.412 line in the last month-plus. Zimmerman sat out of the series opener in Chicago.
- Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras homered twice in Chicago’s loss to the Arizona D-Backs on Thursday, and drove in a career-high six runs.
- In 25 games batting fourth for the Cubs, Willson Contreras was 30 for 94 (.319 AVG) with five doubles, 10 homers, 30 RBIs, and a 1.088 OPS.
- Bryce Harper went 2 for 11 against the Marlins, and he was in the midst of a 2 for 23 stretch in the last seven games heading into today’s series opener with the Cubs.
- Chicago’s series loss to Arizona was their first series loss at home in the second-half in six series in Wrigley Field.
- In today’s Cubs-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Chicago leads the N.L. and ranks tied for second in the majors with Houston with 47 homers... since July 1st, and the Cubs’ 143 runs scored since July 1 are third-most in the N.L.
- Chicago’s 14-5 record (.737) in 19 games out of the All-Star break was the second-best mark in the majors heading into play this afternoon, behind only the LA Dodgers, 15-3 (.833). Washington was third at 11-7 (.611).
- Washington’s last visit to the so-called “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field, was all the way back in May 2016, when they were swept in four straight games.
Nationals now 64-43