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Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman homers twice, drives in six in 9-4 win over Chicago Cubs...

Washington’s hitters knocked Jon Lester out early and Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark won his fourth straight with a strong start in Wrigley Field.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Zimmerman, who started the day 3 for 19 with two doubles off Chicago Cubs’ lefty Jon Lester in their respective careers, homered twice off the southpaw this afternoon in Wrigley Field, hitting two and three-run homers around a sac fly to center, going 2 for 3 overall, with two runs scored and six RBIs in a 9-4 win for the Washington Nationals.

Tanner Roark held the Cubs to two run on nine hits over 7 23 innings on the mound, winning his fourth consecutive start, over which he’s put up a 1.21 ERA.

Roark returns to Illinois: Wilmington, Illinois-born righty Tanner Roark returned to his home state this afternoon unbeaten in his last three outings (after snapping a seven-start winless streak) with a 0.82 ERA and a .177/.188/.228 line against, one walk, and 20 Ks in 22 IP in that stretch.

He ran into trouble in his previous start, at home against the Cincinnati Reds, giving up four hits, and the only run he allowed in the fourth, but told himself that they were just finding a few holes, and kept doing what he was doing and everything worked out. For a pitcher who had struggled for several months, it was a breakthrough.

“It’s easy to get in your own head in that spot, and you’ve just to continue to grind and make your pitches and not give in,” Roark said.

He finished his outing with three scoreless in which he gave up just one hit and earned a “W’ in what ended up a 2-1 win.

Going up against the Chicago Cubs today, Roark tossed two scoreless on 31 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but back-to-back hits by Albert Almora, Jr. and Anthony Rizzo and a sac fly by Javier Baez in the third got the home team on the board, 3-1.

It was 9-1 when Roark took the mound in the bottom of the fourth and tossed a nine-pitch shutdown inning, and he held the Cubs off the board in the fifth and sixth as well, leaving him at 89 total after six.

Roark tossed a quick, 11-pitch seventh, and came back out for the eighth at 100 pitches and worked around back-to-back, one-out hits and a two-out RBI single by Willson Contreras, 9-2. That was it for Roark.

Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 117 P, 75 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Lester vs the Nationals: Jon Lester put together a nine-start unbeaten streak between May 29th and July 15th, posting a 2.80 ERA and a .225/.301/.373 line against in 54 23 IP over that stretch, but coming into today’s outing, the Cubs’ southpaw was winless in his last four, with an 8.53 ERA and a .342/.414/.697 line against in 19 innings.

Lester needed just three pitches to get the first two outs this afternoon, but Bryce Harper lined a first-pitch fastball to right for the Nationals’ first hit, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a 3-2 cutter out to center for a two-out, two-run home run that gave the visiting team a 2-0 lead after a 1/2-inning in Wrigley Field.

Trea Turner singled to start the top of third, stole second as Bryce Harper struck out, and took third on a throwing error by the Cubs’ catcher, Willson Contreras, then scored when Ryan Zimmerman hit a sac fly to the track in center field, 3-0.

It was 3-1 in the fourth when Mark Reynolds bounced a leadoff single off the ivy-covered brick wall in left field and Daniel Murphy followed with an opposite field, two-run homer that cleared the outfield wall in left-center field, 5-1. Murphy’s fifth home run of the season.

Matt Wieters walked in the at bat after Murphy’s blast, and scored on a two-out RBI single by Trea Turner, beating a strong throw home by Albert Almora, Jr. to make it 6-1.

Bryce Harper singled to keep the inning going and Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and two out and hit a three-run blast, his second of the game, to center field in Wrigley Field, making it 9-1. That was it for Lester, who threw 39 pitches in the fourth.

Jon Lester’s Line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 3 HRs, 88 P, 54 S, 4/0 GO/FO.

#TKCHZ!!: Coming into today’s game, 18 for Ryan Zimmerman’s 39 hits this season, (39 for 157; .248/.318/.465), were extra base hits (nine doubles, two triples, and seven home runs).

Since returning from a 58-game DL stint out of the All-Star Break, Zimmerman, 33, was 14 for 42 (.333/.417/.619) with six of his doubles and two of his home runs in 13 games and 48 plate appearances heading into the second of three in Chicago this weekend.

Zimmerman added his third second-half home run in the top of the first this afternoon in Wrigley Field, working the count full against Jon Lester and sending a 91 mph cutter out into the center field bleachers for a two-run blast and a 2-0 lead. 19 of 40 hits extra-base hits.

Zimmerman, who started the day 3 for 19 with two doubles off Lester in their respective careers, was 2 for 2 with two home runs and sac fly after three trips to the plate.

#FWAHHH!!!: Daniel Murphy singled off Jon Lester the first time up today, and homered the second time up, taking an 89 mph 2-2 sinker out to left-center for his fifth home run of the season. Coming into today’s game, the Nats’ second baseman was hitting .297 in 2018, with a .343 OBP, and a .432 SLG, up from a .182/.224/.218 line on July 1st, after he’d struggled out of the gate upon returning to the lineup on June 12th, after missing the first 65 games while he recovered from offseason knee surgery.

BULLPEN ACTION: Jorge De La Rosa took over for Lester in the fourth and came back out in the fifth, striking out three around a two-out walk. De La Rosa walked Harper with two out in the sixth, but retired Ryan Zimmerman to complete another scoreless frame.

Mike Montgomery tossed a scoreless sixth, and Tyler Chatwood took over in the seventh, keeping it to an eight-run deficit with his own scoreless frame. Chatwood worked around two walks in a scoreless eighth as well.

Wander Suero got the final out of the Cubs’ eighth, after Tanner Roark gave up three hits and a run in the inning, 9-2.

Suero came back out in the ninth and gave up three hits and two runs, 9-4 Nationals, with Ben Zobrist lining a two-out, two-run double to right-center for the first extra-base hit for the Cubs.


Final Score: 9-4 Nationals

Nationals now 60-57