Nationals 4, Cubs 3

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CHICAGO (AP)—Livan Hernandez’s latest win did not come easily.

Hernandez tied a franchise record by winning his 11th straight decision Friday afternoon, leading the Washington Nationals to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“It’s not easy,” said Hernandez, who allowed three runs and 10 hits in eight innings. “I want to thank my teammates because the guys playing behind me have my back. I want to do my job, and I’ll continue to do my job. I know how to lose and I know how to win.”

Washington’s Jose Guillen hit a solo homer in the first inning, his 16th, and Brian Schneider was 3-for-5 with two doubles and helped preserve a one-run lead by picking off the potential tying run at third base with one out in the eighth inning.

Cubs starter Mark Prior (5-2) allowed three runs and six hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter in five innings in his second start since being activated from the disabled list.

The Cubs’ Derrek Lee homered and tripled, and Jeromy Burnitz had two hits and an RBI, but was also caught off third by Schneider in the eighth with Todd Hollandsworth, who homered earlier, at the plate.

The Nationals have won four straight.

Hernandez (12-2) struck out three and walked two in joining Dennis Martinez as the only pitchers in franchise history to win 11 consecutive decisions. Martinez did it in 1989.

Hernandez, who has not lost since April 19, took a shutout into the sixth, before Lee and Hollandsworth hit solo homers.

“I tried to keep the ball down and not make any mistakes,” Hernandez said. “A park like this, with the wind blowing out, is difficult to pitch in.”

Manager Frank Robinson called it a “typical Livan game.”

“He had an excellent outing, not letting the opposing hitters do much damage to him,” Robinson said. “And when they did some damage, he … (avoided) the big inning. He kept us in the lead. He’s amazing, keeps hitters off balance, mixes his pitches and knows how to pitch with men on base.”

Nationals closer Chad Cordero, who leads the majors with 28 saves, was given the game off after recording saves each of the previous three days. Hector Carrasco filled in for Cordero and pitched the ninth for his second save in four opportunities.

Guillen’s solo homer and RBI singles by Jamey Carroll in the second and fourth gave Washington a 3-0 lead as Prior struggled somewhat with his location.

He wasn’t as sharp as he was in his previous start, when he held the White Sox to one hit in six shutout innings. But Prior felt fine after throwing 82 pitches.

“The last inning, I felt as strong as I did in the first inning,” Prior said. “I would have liked to have gone (longer).”

The Cubs tightened the game in the sixth.

Lee led off with his 24th homer, and Hollandsworth hit one down the right-field line to make it 3-2 with two outs. With the score 4-2 in the eighth, Burnitz just missed a two-run homer when, after conferring, the umpires called his shot over the right-field wall a foul.

He followed that with an RBI double to left that made it 4-3, but was erased when Schneider threw behind him to Vinny Castilla moments later.

“I just got caught way off,” Burnitz said. “He got me.”

It was a costly, and uncharacteristic mistake for Burnitz.

“(Schneider) came up with it real quick,” Burnitz said. “You can’t let that happen under any circumstances.”

About the foul ball, Burnitz said, “It’s a tough thing to call. That ball was so high.”

Lee, who was on third after leading off with a triple to right, said it was the right call.

“I thought it looked pretty foul,” he said. “Obviously, we were hoping to get a break.”

Notes

Nationals SS Christian Guzman, who left Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh with a strained left hamstring, will not play this weekend. … Schneider stayed in the game after being hit in the left arm by a foul ball by Jose Macias in the second inning. … Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was not in the lineup Friday after being hit by a pitch the previous day against Milwaukee. Hit pinch hit with two out in the eighth and grounded out.

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