Espinosa's HR helps Nationals to 7-5 win over Cubs
WASHINGTON (AP) Danny Espinosa gave the Washington Nationals the kind of big hit they've had trouble coming by in recent days.
He gave Washington an early lead with a three-run homer in the second inning and the Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak with a 7-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
The Nationals finished with 12 hits and broke out of a recent offensive slump in which they scored only 15 runs while losing six of their last seven games. Espinosa sparked Washington when he hit his three-run shot off Chicago starter Tsuyoshi Wade (0-1) in the second for a 3-0 lead.
''(It was) good to get an early lead,'' Espinosa said. ''I got something that was hung over the middle of the plate and (was) able to do something with it.''
Espinosa now has seven homers and leads National League second basemen in that category. He's played different roles for Washington but continues helping out.
''He's done everything we've asked him to do,'' Washington manager Matt Williams said. ''It's well-documented. He's ready to play every day.''
The Nationals touched up Wada for five runs on nine hits in his 3 2/3 innings. Washington finished with three doubles and a homer off Wada, hitting the ball hard several times.
Starter Tanner Roark (2-2) retired the first 10 batters he faced but later gave up three homers - two to Chicago's Anthony Rizzo, who'd gone 10 games without one - and four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Roark left with a 5-4 lead and four Washington relief pitchers combined to give up just one run in the final 3-plus innings.
That came in the ninth off closer Drew Storen, who closed it and earned his 18th save. He was tied with St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal for the National League lead before the game, and the Cardinals were playing in Los Angeles.
''We'd scratch a few runs across to keep it interesting, and they had some key insurance runs later on,'' Rizzo said. ''It was tough to dig us out over there.''
After Espinosa's homer, Rizzo answered for the Cubs with a solo shot in the fourth. Michael A. Taylor (sacrifice fly) and Denard Span (single) each drove in a run as the Nationals stretched their lead to 5-1 in the bottom of that inning.
The Cubs then cut it to 5-4 in the sixth thanks to a two-run homer from Rizzo and a solo shot from Miguel Montero that ended Roark's night.
Wilson Ramos and pinch-hitter Dan Uggla both gave the Nationals some insurance with RBI doubles. Ramos did it in the seventh while Uggla came through in the eighth.
CENTER FIELD ROBBERY
Rizzo nearly hit a third homer, but Washington CF Denard Span made a leaping catch of his eighth-inning blast. Span jumped to the top of the wall and then tumbled to the ground.
END OF STREAK
Storen gave up a run in the ninth, ending his scoreless inning streak at 17. The Nationals closer had to pitch to the tying run but got the final out to lock up the victory.
Cubs: OF Chris Denorfia (left hamstring strain) continued his rehab assignment Friday with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. He started in left field and batted fifth after going 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored Thursday.
Nationals: 3B Yunel Escobar's right wrist remained sore Friday, and he was out of the starting lineup with Williams saying he's ''day-to-day.'' X-rays came back negative on the wrist, which Escobar injured on a checked swing early in Thursday's game. ...RHP Doug Fister (right forearm tightness) will make a rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket. ...RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck tightness) was working on ''mound stuff,'' according to Williams, and also is progressing. But no rehab date yet for him.
Cubs: RHP Jason Hammel (4-2, 2.82) has given Chicago quality starts in six of his last seven games. Also, he's 8-0 versus the Nationals, the only major league pitcher ever to post at least eight wins without a loss against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Joe Ross will be making his major-league debut. The Nationals are calling him up from Double-A Harrisburg, where Ross is 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA in nine starts this season