Cubs 4, Nationals 0
However, Jones, who has been booed repeatedly during his first season with the Cubs, received quite a scare before the top of the ninth inning as a fan in the right-field bleachers threw a ball that nearly hit Jones in the face. According to Cubs officials, the woman was drunk and detained by ballpark security, but not arrested. They wouldn’t release her name.
“I threw a ball to Juan (Pierre) and then turned around to get in my position and the ball came whizzing past my head,” Jones said. “It went right past my face. I’m not going to let one person ruin my time here. I signed here for three years and I signed to help this team win.”
Jones has struggled at times at the plate and on the bases. He was picked off second base from the outfield on a double play for the third time this month in the fourth inning, and was booed after that.
Jones, a .279 career hitter in seven seasons with Minnesota, went 1-for-4 and is hitting .264.
“There’s pressure here to win and everybody knows it, and I’m not afraid of pressure,” Jones said. “If you can’t play with pressure, then you don’t need to play. I feel like I can play in any type of situation so I’m not going to let this one isolated incident affect the way I play or the way I carry myself. I will not.”
“We could’ve had more runs, but we’ll take any victory we can get right now,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
Zambrano (2-2) had his third straight strong start and his second win in a row as the Cubs snapped a four-game losing streak. Zambrano started off 0-2 over his first seven starts but he’s given up just one run over 23 innings in his last three outings, lowering his ERA to 3.34.
“I was getting ahead on the count early,” Zambrano said. “I threw a lot of sliders today and that was the key of the game. I think they were waiting for fastballs inside for the sinker. I think I changed their minds.”
Zambrano struck out eight, walked two and gave up four hits in Chicago’s first shutout of the season and just its second win in 14 games. He kicked a ground ball by Nick Johnson in the eighth to start in an inning-ending double play.
“‘Z’ wanted that game badly, that’s why we went as far was we did with them,” Baker said. “He earned it, he deserved it and he’s a good pitcher for us.”
Both of the 24-year-old Venezuelan’s wins have ended losing streaks. Zambrano’s first victory, on May 10, snapped an eight-game skid.
Washington has lost five of eight, finishing with just four hits.
“We’re not hitting,” manager Frank Robinson said. “We weren’t able to handle Zambrano. It’s not the first night that we didn’t hit. We’ve been in this rut all season long.”
Zambrano, who threw a season-high 122 pitches, got ahead of hitters early, and struck out two in each of the first three innings. Starting the third, Zambrano retired 13 in a row before Wiki Gonzalez singled in the seventh.
Ramirez’s RBI fielder’s choice in the fourth broke a 15-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs, who had scored just 22 runs in their last 14 losses over the previous 16 games.
“I’m probably a little excited right now, especially with the way we’ve been playing to try and do something positive, and it’s backfiring,” Jones said. “So maybe I do need to turn it down a notch.”
Zambrano reached on a throwing error by Royce Clayton to lead off the fifth and Juan Pierre followed with a bunt single. Matt Murton reached on a fielder’s choice as Hernandez slipped trying to cover third, loading the bases.
Walker then drove in two runs with a single past Jose Vidro into right. Michael Barrett lined into a 1-3 double play, with Walker getting picked off first, but Ramirez doubled to score Murton from third.
Hernandez gave up two earned runs in seven innings, allowing eight hits and three walks. He is winless in his last seven starts.
Baker shook up his slumping team’s lineup again Tuesday. He put Murton in the second spot for the first time this season and then changed it again before the game, moving Barrett into the cleanup role, Ramirez one spot down into fifth, John Mabry from fifth to seventh, and Jones from seventh to sixth. … Walker was 1-for-16 entering the game. … The win was the Cubs’ first over a Washington team since a 6-5 win on Aug. 1, 1899. … Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.