Light-hitting catcher John Baker had three hits, a walk and four RBIs, and Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel again mastered the Washington Nationals in a 7-2 victory Friday.
Baker capped his big day with a bases-loaded, three-run double off reliever Jerry Blevins in the seventh inning. He entered the game hitting .160 in 35 games. The four RBIs doubled his season total to eight. He also had four RBIs against the Nationals on Sept. 4, 2009, in Washington.
Chris Coghlan, Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney each had a pair of hits in the 13-hit attack to help the Cubs win for the 21st time in their last 38 games.
Hammel (7-5) allowed two runs on five hits and one walk in 6 1-3 innings en route to his seventh victory in seven decisions against the Nationals. He moved within three wins of his career high, which he achieved with the Colorado Rockies in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Washington starter Tanner Roark (7-5) allowed four runs on 10 hits and one walk over six innings. He had won his previous four starts, not allowing more than two runs per outing.
After Adam LaRoche launched a solo homer to right field that tied the score at 2-all in the fourth inning, Hammel mowed down the next 10 batters before Wilson Ramos singled with one out in the seventh inning. Reliever Brian Schlitter entered the game and induced Ian Desmond to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
In the fourth inning, the Cubs took a 4-2 advantage on Ryan Sweeney's two-out, two-run single and never looked back. The hit scored Coghlan (single) and Baker (single) ahead of him.
Chicago took its first lead in the second inning, 2-1, when the first four batters hit safely. Coghlan set up the rally with an infield hit after a nine-pitch at-bat. Baker and Darwin Barney then delivered consecutive RBI singles.
The Nationals drew first blood in the top of the inning, as Ryan Zimmerman doubled home LaRoche (single) from first base.
NOTES: Cubs OF Junior Lake was cleared by team physicians but did not play. He reluctantly left the series opener the previous night after a head-first collision with a steel door in right-center field. General manager Theo Epstein said the organization would look into the possibility of padding the doors for safety purposes. ... The Nationals hope OF Bryce Harper (left thumb surgery) will return early next week, manager Matt Williams said. Harper continued his rehab stint at Class AA Harrisburg, where he was slated to play center field on Friday night. ... Each team plans to start its so-called 26th man in the day-night doubleheader on Saturday — rookie Dallas Beeler (0-0) for the Cubs in the opener and Blake Treinen (0-3) for the Nationals in the nightcap. Gio Gonzalez (4-4) will open for the visitors in the afternoon game, while Jeff Samardzija (2-6) will get the ball for the home team in the night game.
Author: PAUL LADEWSKI, Associated Press