Nationals outhomer Cubs in opener at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs will see a lot of each other in the near future, as they play seven games over two weeks. In their first meeting, the Nationals struck first, edging the Cubs, 2-1, on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field.
Denard Span and Wilson Ramos homered for the National League East-leading Nationals, while Tanner Roark started in place of the injured Doug Fister and allowed a run and three hits in five innings. Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada struck out six and allowed a run, four hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list. After Wada departed, Ramos hit a go-ahead solo homer off right-hander Justin Grimm in the sixth.
"With the exception of one slider to [Kris] Bryant, he threw the ball exactly where he wanted to throw it today," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Roark. "He really kept his pitch count down through five. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to get guys out."
Kris Bryant's sixth home run tied it in the first after Span led off the game with a solo shot off the right-field videoboard for his fourth homer of the season. Drew Storen earned his NL-leading 15th save.
"We knew today [the wind] would be blowing like that," Bryant said. "It was good conditions to hit. Their pitchers, you got to tip your cap. They kept us off balance."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Backfired: The Cubs brought in Grimm to face Ryan Zimmerman with one out and none on in the sixth -- even though Wada had thrown only 83 pitches. Grimm retired Zimmerman, but then Ramos went deep to the right-field bleachers still under construction. That proved to be the game-winner. Cubs manager Joe Maddon has applied a quick hook with Wada because he believes the lefty can lose effectiveness the third time through the order.
Critical situations: The Nationals loaded the bases in the fourth in a tied game after a Bryce Harper double and walks to Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa. Wada then struck out Michael Taylor swinging to end the threat. The next inning, Wada got a strikeout and flyout to leave Roark stranded at third. More >
Gold star defense: The Cubs made strong defensive plays early. Right fielder Jorge Soler made a sliding catch on Yunel Escobar's foul pop behind the bullpen mound near the wall in the first inning.
Second baseman Addison Russell stretched out to snag Taylor's grounder up the middle, and he made the throw to first to end the second.
Gold star defense II: With a runner on first and two out in the second inning, Wada stroked a liner to left-center that appeared certain to drop in and roll to the wall. Nats left fielder Taylor raced over and made a superb diving catch to end the inning and likely save a run.
Then, in the third, Harper made a nice running catch of a drive by Rizzo hit directly over his head to end the inning.
"They pretty much beat us with outfield defense," Maddon said. More >
"I think I'm just getting my old-man strength. It's coming in in the beard, and I think it's starting to show on the field now." -- Span, referencing the gray in his beard, on his long leadoff homer that hit high off the new scoreboard in right field
"I will take our effort, and I'll take our performance. And I will take that we're as good as anybody we've played so far." -- Maddon, on the club's showing vs. the National League East leaders More >
BRYANT, HARPER REUNITE
After playing with and against each other as youngsters in Las Vegas, Harper and Bryant reunited Monday and complimented each other before the reunion. Bryant made the first impression with his homer during his first at-bat, and he later reached on an infield single. Harper doubled in the fourth. More >
Leading off the ninth, Bryant was awarded first base after the Cubs challenged home-plate umpire Ryan Blakney's ruling that he struck out on a foul tip. After review, Bryant was ruled to have been hit by the pitch, and the call was overturned. More >
Nationals: Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.52 ERA) will be making his first start at Wrigley Field since 2013, and he's 0-3 in three starts there. First pitch is 7:05 ET, an hour earlier than usual for a night game in Chicago.
Cubs: Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 4.14 ERA) will take the mound for his first career start against the Nationals on Tuesday at 6:05 CT. He threw his first career shutout Thursday against the Padres at Petco Park in his previous start.
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