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Rapid Reaction: Nationals 7, Cubs 3

5/10/2013

WASHINGTON -- A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in the series opener Friday at Nationals Park.

How it happened: The Nationals battered starter Jeff Samardzija for seven runs on eight hits in his five innings. Washington banged out a homer and three doubles plus two runs apiece in the second and fourth along with three more in the fifth. Samardzija also hurt his cause with an error in the second inning which opened the door to two unearned runs. The right-hander pitched well at times but giving up a pair of two-run doubles and a two-run homer didn’t help. Samardzija slipped to 1-5 and is winless in his last seven starts since an Opening Day victory. The Nats’ Ian Desmond nearly hit for the cycle, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI. Desmond singled in the second, belted a two-run homer in the fourth and an RBI double an inning later.

What it means: The Nationals got plenty of hits at the right time, but the Cubs certainly didn’t. Chicago finished just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Washington went 3-for-6 and got three extra-base hits that drove in two runs. The Cubs wasted a number of scoring chances early, leaving runners on in four of the first five innings, opening the door for the Nationals and letting Washington starter Ross Detwiler escape trouble several times.

Outside the box: Samardzija found more success with the bats than against them. The right-hander came into the game 0-for-12 at the plate -- with nine strikeouts -- but he sure looked like a hitter Friday. Samardzija ripped a double to left leading off the third and later scored. He then crushed a line shot to deep center in the fourth that Denard Span had to make a tough running catch on.

Off beat: The Cubs truly made double trouble at times. They banged out seven two-baggers but still scored just three runs. Starlin Castro started the game with a double to right and later scored. Samardzija and Castro got back-to-back doubles in the third for run number two and Darwin Barney's double in the ninth led to a run as well. But all the extra-base hits didn't help much.

Up next: The Cubs will try to bounce back in the middle game of this weekend series. Former National Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39) tries again for his first win and meets up with Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45) in the afternoon matchup.