WASHINGTON – Ian Desmond's three hits included a two-run homer and an RBI double, and Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki also drove in runs with doubles, helping the Washington Nationals beat the Cubs, 7-3, for their season-high fifth consecutive victory.
Despite playing without Bryce Harper (ingrown toenail) or Jayson Werth (injured right hamstring), the Nationals won for the seventh time in eight games. Ross Detwiler (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings, and Craig Stammen got the last seven outs.
Chicago's Jeff Samardzija (1-5) lost his fifth decision in a row by allowing seven runs – five earned – and eight hits. He threw 73 pitches in his five innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.
Making his first start in the leadoff slot this season, the Cubs Starlin Castro delivered doubles in each of his first two at-bats, including to begin the game. He came around to make it 1-0 in the first on Anthony Rizzo's groundout.
Suzuki's two-run double off the wall in right-center put Washington ahead 2-1 in the second. One of the runners who scored reached on an infield single, while the other got aboard when Samardzija failed in two attempts to field the ball cleanly with his pitching hand and was charged with an error – making both runs unearned.
The Cubs tied it in the third when Samardzija and Castro hit consecutive doubles. Castro later was thrown out at home when trying to score on Rizzo's single. Right fielder Roger Bernadina, starting because Harper and Werth were out, got his second assist of the season with his throw, and catcher Suzuki dived to tag Castro.
There were some other nice defensive plays by both teams, including Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney's scoop-and-toss with his glove of Bernadina's grounder in the first, and Nationals center fielder Denard Span's tumbling catch of Samardzija's drive to the warning track in the fifth.
Desmond put Washington back out front with his fifth homer, driving an 0-1 pitch barely over the wall in left to make it 4-2. Soon as the bat made contact with the ball, Samardzija spun around and yelled.
Didn't get much better in the fifth, when the Nationals tacked on three more runs on consecutive doubles by Desmond and Espinosa.
The Cubs had five doubles in the first five innings – and yet only scored two runs in that span.
NOTES: Samardzija's lone win came on Opening Day against Pittsburgh. ... Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Werth has a "very slight strain" of his hamstring and probably would head to the disabled list, backdated to May 2. Rizzo expects Werth to be able to return the first day he's eligible, May 18. Manager Davey Johnson listed Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus as possible call-ups to take Werth's roster spot. ... Harper had been bothered for a few days before having the problematic toenail removed. Rizzo and Johnson both said they expect Harper to be available Saturday. ... The Cubs activated RHP Kyuji Fujikawa from the DL and optioned RHP Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa. Fujikawa, out since April 13 with a straight right forearm, pitched a scoreless seventh inning Friday. ... On Saturday, Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45 ERA) will face Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39). Jackson was with Washington last season, then signed a $52 million, four-year deal with the Cubs as a free agent. "Been a slow start to say the least. Not exactly how I had it envisioned," Jackson said. When a reporter asked Johnson whether he'd greet Jackson, the skipper said: "I'll be glad to see him. ... Everybody liked him. ... He's the enemy now; not giving him any secrets. ... I've had a lot of those situations over the years. I don't turn my back on him, but I don't go over and hug him, either." ... Crew chief Angel Hernandez, whose umpiring crew earlier this week in Cleveland failed to reverse a clear-cut home run after looking at a video review, was met with some boos when introduced over the PA system before Friday's game.
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