Cubs Survive Shaky Ninth, Beat Nationals

The final score said 3 runs separated the Cubs and Washington Nationals on Friday night. It was more like 3 feet.

Jose Guillen's warning track fly ball to Jeromy Burnitz in deep right with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning had roughly three feet to spare before clearing the wall and giving the Nationals a come-from-behind victory.

Instead, Todd Wellemeyer got his first save since his major league debut at Miller Park in May of 2003, and Will Ohman got his first win since 2000 as the Cubs won a 6-3 thriller over Washington at RFK Stadium in the opener of a three-game series. It was the Cubs' first trip to the nation's capitol since 1899.

Starter Glendon Rusch hurled five innings in a no-decision, giving up two runs and six hits. He gave up a run in the second inning to fall behind 1-0, but later retired nine of 10 batters before leaving after putting two on to open the National sixth. The left-hander also singled twice in his only at-bats.

Rusch left with the lead, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles from Michael Barrett and Jason Dubois in the fourth inning. Barrett extended his hitting streak to five games.

With two on and nobody out in the sixth, LaTroy Hawkins relieved Rusch and proceeded to give up a game-tying RBI single to pinch-hitter Ryan Church. After a walk loaded the bases with one out, Hawkins buckled down and got pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Hawkins was demoted to middle relief after blowing three saves in seven chances this season.

"We're going to put him in a less prevalent role so that he gets his confidence back," manager Dusty Baker said earlier this week. "One of the main problems is his fastball has leaked back over the heart of the plate ... I still contend he has the best stuff of anyone on our team."

The scored remained tied until the eighth when Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with his seventh home run. Later that inning, two errors - including one with Burnitz in a run-down between third and home - led to three more runs, giving the Cubs a 6-2 advantage.

Mike Remlinger started the ninth, allowed two doubles to make it a 6-3 game, and then walked the final two batters he faced to load the bases before Wellemeyer, the sixth Cub pitcher of the game, was summoned with two out. He fell behind 2-0 to Guillen before getting the final out and avoiding a Friday the 13th nightmare of all sorts.

Ohman (1-0) and Michael Wuertz each pitched one perfect inning in relief. Through seven games, Ohman has not allowed a run all year in relief. His scoreless streak between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa now spans 12.1 innings. Derrek Lee finished 0-for-4, hitless for just the second time in his last 23 games.

The second game of the series is another 6:05 CDT start (TV: Comcast Sports Net) Saturday. Scheduled starters are Carlos Zambrano and Livan Hernandez.

(Information from the Cubs' media relations department was used in this story.)


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