Cubs Follow Script; Pound Nats 9-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, August 24, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Chicago -- A day after the Washington Nationals had their way with the N.L. leading Chicago Cubs, the Cubbies returned the favor, riding the strong right arm of all-star Ryan Dempster and two home runs by slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez to defeat the Nats 9-3 before 40,000-plus at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon.

Dempster scattered eight hits in his seven and one-third innings, but gave up just one run -- on an RBI single by Anderson Hernandez -- notching his 15th win of the season against just five losses, setting a career-high mark for victories in one year. He walked just one batter and struck out four along the way. "I don't know. I'm not worried about that. It's a great personal accomplishment, but my motivation is one reason and one reason only and that's to get to the playoffs and win the World Series," Dempster said. "I will take 15 wins and a World Series and I'd be the happiest player in baseball."

Washington starter Odalis Perez was not nearly as sharp. He battled constant trouble, and allowed four earned runs -- all in the fourth inning -- on ten hits and four walks in four and one-third innings. Perez put multiple runners on each of the first three innings but remained unscathed -- until the Cubs finally made him pay in the fourth.

Perez got Dempster to ground out to start the inning innocently enough, but then walked OF Alfonso Soriano, no small feat. 2B Ryan Theriot followed with a single to center field, and Derrick Lee smacked a ball up the middle that scored Soriano. That brought Aramis Ramirez to the plate, and he deposited a 1-2 fastball over the ivy in left field for a three-run home run, all the offense the Cubs would need on this day.

"You can only work out of so many jams against such a good ball club," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Perez (L, 5-10, 4.21) found himself in another jam to start the fifth. OF Kosuke Fukudome reached on an error by second baseman Hernandez, and after Dempster sacrificed him to second, Fukudome scored on a Soriano double to left field. That extra base hit sent Perez to the showers, his day -- and that of the Nats for all intent -- over.

Ramirez would add another three-run home run off reliever Marco Estrada in the eighth inning, his 22nd of the season. Theriot reached on an infield single, Daryle Ward walked, and Ramirez drove another offering over the ivy, this one to right field. Mark DeRosa added his 17th homer of the season as well for Chicago.

Ryan Zimmerman had three singles in four trips to the plate, but could not find a batter behind him to drive him in today. Maybe the Nats should have saved a couple of those extra runs they scored Friday afternoon for this contest.

The series wraps up Sunday at 2:20 pm. Jason Bergmann (2-9, 4.50) matches up with Rich Harden (8-2, 2.04) for the Cubs.

NATS NOTES: The loss lowers the team record to 46-84, 26 games behind division leading New York. The Nats have lost thirteen of their last fifteen games.

OF Lastings Milledge took a Dempster fastball off his left hand late in the game, but seemed to be fine, despite some nasty bruising. "I'll be all right," said Milledge, who remained in the game but didn't have to bat again. "It's a little sore, but I've got to play."

OF Elijah Dukes, on the DL with a right calf strain, homered Friday night during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. The Nats hope he can rejoin the team next week