Chicago Cubs: Ian Desmond
May, 11, 2013
By Todd Karpovich
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com
WASHINGTON -- The Chicago Cubs' offense came alive in an 8-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday at Nationals Park.
How it happened: Cubs starter Edwin Jackson had one of his best outings of the season against his former team. Not only did he contain the Nationals, but his two-RBI double against Stephen Strasburg broke a scoreless deadlock in the fifth inning. Jackson allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks over 5⅓ innings. Shawn Camp entered in the sixth and allowed an RBI single to Ian Desmond, which was charged to Jackson. Strasburg, who has struggled with his mechanics recently, started strong by retiring the first 11 batters with seven strikeouts. However, the Cubs finally began to catch up with him in the fifth when they sent nine batters to the plate and ended his day. After Jackson's double, Anthony Rizzo inflicted more damage by knocking in two runs with a single up the middle. The Cubs added four more runs in the sixth on a wild pitch by Zach Duke, a double by Cody Ransom and a two-RBI single by David DeJesus. Chicago had six doubles after hitting seven the previous night.
What it means: The Cubs won for just the fourth time in their past 10 games. They also earned the opportunity to take the three-game series with a victory Sunday. Third baseman Luis Valbuena injured his pinkie finger sliding into third base, left the game for X-rays and was replaced by Ransom in the fifth. The X-rays on Valbuena's finger were negative for a fracture, and his status is day-to-day.
Outside the box: Jackson downplayed his return to Washington earlier this week, but he showed a spark that had been missing in some of his previous starts. He pitched four scoreless innings before allowing two runs in the fifth. Jackson also ignited the offense with his two-run double, his first hit of the season. He faces high expectations after signing a four-year deal worth $52 million in the offseason. However, he should earn some confidence by getting his first victory in a Cubs uniform. The club has remained patient with him, and manager Dale Sveum said Jackson will remain in the rotation even when Matt Garza (strained lat muscle) returns from the disabled list, which is expected in a couple of weeks. Jackson was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA with the Nationals last season.
Off beat: The Cubs did not commit an error for the first time in eight games. They still lead the major leagues with 30 errors, which have led to 19 unearned runs. Sveum said those types of defensive lapses tend to be cyclical, and he is hoping his team is finally at the end of that tough stretch. Their performance Saturday was at least a positive sign.
Up next: Right-hander Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70 ERA) will try to win the series for the Cubs when he takes the mound Sunday against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.97 ERA). Chicago has struggled at Nationals Park, going just 2-8 since 2008.