WASHINGTON (AP) Wilson Ramos decided a game of two-run homers with a suicide squeeze, driving in Michael Morsein the seventh inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
Ramos pulled off the tiebreaking sacrifice after missing the sign earlier in the count. He swung away with Morse charging home on the first pitch from Kerry Wood (1-4) but managed to foul it off, saving the Nationals from an embarrassing out.
Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman homered for the Nationals, and Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez did the same for the Cubs – all four coming with a man on base.
Ryan Mattheus (2-0) pitched one inning to get his second major league win – and second in five days – for the Nationals, who continue to take all their victories down to the wire. Each of their last 10 wins has been by either one run or in extra innings, and they are 13-3 in one-run games since June 1.
Washington has won three straight and will go for the sweep on Thursday. The club improved to 5-5 under manager Davey Johnson, who nevertheless remains perplexed by his team’s stinginess with clutch hits. Washington stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first six innings and finished 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his 22nd save.
Zimmerman, showing signs of breaking out of a post-injury slump, had two doubles along with his fourth homer, giving him his first three-hit game of the year. He has five hits in his last two games and is now batting .218 since returning from abdominal surgery on June 14.
Struggling Nationals slugger Jayson Werth, who is quickly becoming a sideshow all to himself, was moved down to No. 6 in the lineup for the first time this season and had another rough night. He went 0 for 4 to lower his batting average to .218 and heard a hearty round of boos after his popout to shortstop with men and second and third with none out in the fifth.
Werth heard more jeers after misplaying Starlin Castro’s double to right to lead off the sixth. The miscue proved costly when the next batter, Ramirez, hit one out to straightaway center to tie at 4. As the ball sailed over the fence, Werth leaned forward dejectedly with hands on knees, remaining that way until the next hitter was announced.
Werth did get a decent hand when he flew out in the seventh, driving the ball deep enough for a runner to advance from second to third.
Washington starter Tom Gorzelanny allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings. Chicago’s Randy Wells gave up four runs and 10 hits and was removed after the first four batters reached base in the fifth.
NOTES: Espinosa’s home run was his 16th, the most among second baseman in the majors as well as the most among all rookies. … Morse was back in the lineup after missing three starts with a bruised forearm. … Nationals RHP Cole Kimball, on the 15-day disabled list, will be in New York on Friday to see another doctor about the inflammation in his throwing shoulder. … The Cubs will decide Thursday whether RHP Ryan Dempster can make his scheduled start on Saturday. Dempster was hospitalized over the weekend with back pain and missed his start Monday. … RHP Ramon Ortiz, who had a respectable outing in his Cubs debut Tuesday, will stay in the rotation for now and pitch again Sunday. … Gorzelanny singled in the fourth for his first hit of the year, ending an 0-for-20 start to the season.