- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Ryan Sweeney knocked in two runs with a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth inning after the Nationals had tied the score in the top of the inning. The Cubs got down 1-0 when Ryan Zimmerman brought home Adam LaRoche with an RBI double in the second, but they quickly took the lead on RBI singles by John Baker and Darwin Barney in the bottom of the second. The Nationals tied it 2-2 when LaRoche homered in the fourth, but then came Sweeney’s clutch hit. Baker extended the lead with a three-run double in the seventh. Jason Hammel went 6⅓ innings, giving up five hits and two runs to get the win.
What it means: The Cubs offense is starting to look like it knows what it's doing, and the key on Friday was the role players coming through. Baker was on base four times, Chris Coghlan twice and the entire bottom of the order contributed to go along with Sweeney’s big hit at the top. The Cubs managed nine hits off starter Tanner Roark, who had a 2.79 ERA coming into the game. When he left, it was over 3.00.
Baker’s day: Baker went 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBIs in his best day as a Cub. He’s been getting more time as Welington Castillo is eased back into action after recovering from a rib injury. Baker made the most of his extra chance Friday, doubling his RBI total for the season in one game.
What’s next: Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler makes his major league debut in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday at 12:05 pm. He’ll face Gio Gonzalez (4-4, 4.38 ERA). In the nightcap at 6:05 p.m., Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.53) takes on Blake Treinen (0-3, 2.08).
1dJacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information