by Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer

The Washington Nationals suffered a heart-breaking loss Monday night as reliever Brian Bruney walked Aramis Ramirez with the bases loaded in the tenth inning, and the Chicago Cubs took the first contest of a three-game set, 4-3, on a cold, blustery evening in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

With the score tied at three in the ninth inning, Chicago's Ryan Theriot started things off with a single, and then Bruney would strike out Jeff Baker for the first out.

However, things would further unravel for the Nationals as Derrek Lee singled and Marlon Byrd followed with a floater over the head of Cristian Guzman. That brought Aramis Ramirez up to the plate, and Bruney, who struggled with his command the entire appearance, walked him on four pitches.

In the end, an ineffective Bruney (L, 1-1, 5.59) took the loss for Washington.  Carlos Marmol (W, 1-0, 0.84) was the pitcher of record for Chicago.

The Nationals are 10-10 on the season and back at the .500 mark.

The Cubs have won their fourth in a row and are also 10-10.

Washington got a solid effort from John Lannan, who started the game on the mound. He went six innings and gave up three runs, but his outing started off rocky before settling in.

The Cubs would get on the scoreboard in the second inning against Lannan as they plated two runs on an Aramis Ramirez RBI-double and a bases-loaded walk to pitcher Carlos Silva.

They upped the lead to 3-0 as Marlon Byrd drove in a run with an infield single; however, in the middle innings, Washington would inch their way back into the game.

For the first third of the game, pitcher Carlos Silva, who has started the season of strong after a disastrous stint in Seattle, breezed through the Nationals lineup.

However, in the middle innings, he ran into trouble.

Washington got a pair of runs in the fourth inning as Josh Willingham earned a bases-loaded walk off Silva that plated Nyjer Morgan and then Adam Kennedy drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

The Nats tied the game at three thanks to a Wil Nieves RBI-single.

All told, Silva went go seven innings and give up three runs.

In the eighth inning, the Nats had a chance to break open the game with a potential rally, but could not make anything of it.

With one out in the frame, Adam Dunn and Willingham hit back-to-back singles.  The inning would quickly come to an end though as Kennedy popped out to the shortstop and reliever Carlos Zambrano fanned Nieves for the final out.

Int he loss, the Nationals pounded out ten hits, three of which came from the bat of Adam Dunn. The three-some of Morgan, Ian Desmond and Willingham had two hits each.

Ryan Zimmerman again didn't start the game due his injury, but did pinch hit in the ninth inning, flying out to right.

NATS NOTES:  Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez was scratched from the lineup because of lower back tightness.

Tyler Walker pitched one and one-third scoreless innings of relief.  He gave up one hit and had one strikeout.
The Nats turned three double plays.
Washington struck out four times and walked once.