Hammel stays undefeated against Nationals, Cubs win 4-2
WASHINGTON (AP) Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was in campaign mode following Jason Hammel's latest stellar effort against the Washington Nationals.
Hammel continued his mastery of Washington, Dexter Fowler had two hits and scored twice, and the Cubs beat the Nationals 4-2 on Saturday.
The right hander improved his overall record to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.76 after allowing two runs in eight-plus innings.
''You talk about pitching at an All-Star level, he has. He's been unbelievably good,'' Maddon said. ''I really think he has to be considered based on his performances.''
Hammel, who said he's not thinking about the All-Star Game, improved to 9-0 with a 3.01 ERA in 11 starts against the Nationals.
''If I told you, I'd have to kill you,'' Hammel joked when asked why he excels versus Washington.
Standing in front of his locker with something red in his hair and a white splotch near his right ear, the leftovers from a celebratory concoction dumped on him by his teammates, he added: ''I have no idea. Some places you just do better than others. I do love pitching in this stadium.''
Hammel allowed five hits, striking out seven and walking two. He departed after Bryce Harper hit his 19th homer of the season to open the ninth.
After Hector Rondon walked Anthony Rendon, Pedro Strop came on and recorded his second save.
Wilson Ramos also homered for the Nationals.
With starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister on the disabled list, the Nationals called on 22-year-old prospect Joe Ross (0-1) to make his Major League debut. Ross, who was 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA at Double-A Harrisburg, retired the first nine Cubs, but allowed a run in the fourth and two in the fifth.
''It was better than I expected, the first three innings,'' Ross said. ''The second time through the lineup, they kind of picked up, I guess, what I was doing, what I was throwing. Put some better barrels on the ball.''
He allowed three runs on six hits over five innings and struck out four without a walk. Ross threw 91 pitches as his older brother, pitcher Tyson Ross of the Padres, watched from the stands.
''All in all, I think he threw the ball well,'' manager Matt Williams said. ''He was unfazed by the magnitude of it.''
A first-round pick by the Padres in 2011, Joe Ross was acquired from San Diego last winter as part of a three-team trade involving Tampa Bay.
Washington seemed ready to turn the tables on Hammel early on. Ramos slammed his first pitch of the second inning to left center for his fourth home run.
Chicago tied it in the fourth. Fowler and Rizzo singled to put runners on first and third with no outs in the fourth.
Kris Bryant's smash to third deflected off Rendon for an RBI single.
Chicago went ahead 3-1 in the fifth when Fowler singled home Herrera and scored on double by Rizzo.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
Tyson Ross pitched five innings for the win as San Diego beat the Reds 6-2 on Friday night. The Padres gave him permission to travel to Washington for his brother's debut. ''It was awesome. ... He surprised me coming out,'' said Joe Ross. ''I didn't know until just before the game. That was kind of extra incentive, knowing he's watching me in the stands.''
QUICK HOOK FOR RONDON
Maddon said he isn't changing closers, despite having removed Rondon after he walked Rendon in the ninth. Strop came on and retired three straight for his second save. ''Obviously (Rondon) has not been as sharp as we know he can be lately,'' Maddon said. ''For me it was about winning the game today. I'm not ordaining anybody new.''
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler (on the 15-day DL with a left ankle sprain) is optimistic about the pace of his recovery. ''I'm going to keep working hard to get back,'' he said through an interpreter. ''(Hopefully) I feel good after my 15 days.''
Nationals: Strasburg (neck tightness) threw his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list May 30. Williams said he threw 30 pitches, using all of his pitches, and ''came out of it feeling good.'' ... INF Yunel Escobar was out of the lineup for the second straight game. He was scheduled to take batting practice to test his sore right wrist.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.99) allowed a run over seven innings in a no-decision against Washington on May 26.
Nationals: RHP Jordan Zimmerman (5-2) hasn't lost since April 18, winning four straight decisions and lowering his ERA from 6.14 to 2.88.