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Desmond has big night to lead Nationals over Cubs

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Ian Desmond is the latest in a list of Sarasota (Fla.) High School graduates who have made the Major Leagues, following in the footsteps of former Red Sox outfielder Greg Blosser and Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

But now Desmond is starting to post milestones of his own. An All-Star in 2012, the Washington shortstop collected his 500th career hit -- a two-run homer in the fourth -- and had three hits and scored three runs as the Nationals won their fifth game in a row, 7-3 over the Cubs on Friday.

"God has blessed me with the ability to play this game," he said after Friday's win. "It seems like every year I have been here we have gotten better."

Desmond hit 25 homers last season and now has 52 in his career as one of the top extra-base hitters among middle infielders. He added three RBI Friday and Adam LaRoche had two hits and two runs.

"We are starting to play better. Hitting is contagious," Desmond said.

Washington manager Davey Johnson said that Desmond was unintentionally moving up in the batter's box in recent games until he realized that.

"He caught himself. He noticed it," said Johnson, who added his former Orioles' teammate Frank Robinson, a Hall of Famer, used to do the same thing.

Said Desmond, with a grin: "It is a minor adjustment."

Washington (20-15) won for the seventh time in eight games behind starter Ross Detwiler (2-3), who won for just the second time despite an ERA of 2.50 at game time. He went six and 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs.

"Our offense really answered the bell," Detwiler said. "I thought the defense was unbelievable tonight. They were diving all over the place."

The Cubs (13-22) had four leadoff doubles in the first seven innings but could not capitalize for starter Jeff Samardzija (1-5), whose error in the second led to two unearned runs. Chicago has now lost six of its last eight games.

"It was kind of a strange outing for him. But like I said, we've got to field a ground ball back to us," said Dale Sveum, the Chicago manager. "We just couldn't do anything after the doubles."

Samardzija acknowledged he had "good stuff."

"The fastball location was good. It's a tough one. That's the frustrating part of it when you've got your pitches and feel good and get that outcome. It's unfortunate."

Desmond finally was retired on a groundout in his fourth at bat in the eighth off Chicago reliever Shawn Camp.

Starlin Castro and Ryan Sweeney had two hits for the Cubs, who totaled 10 hits, but were just two-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Craig Stammen came on in the seventh for Detwiler and finished off the Cubs despite allowing a run in the ninth.

Washington took a 7-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run double by Danny Espinosa. His hit followed an RBI double by Desmond.

Desmond hit a two-run homer in the fourth against Samardzija to give Washington a 4-2 lead.

Chicago tied the game at 2 in the third on an RBI double right by Castro. His hit scored Samardzija, who had doubled.

The Cubs could have taken the lead 3-2 but Washington right fielder Roger Bernadina threw out Castro at home on a single by Anthony Rizzo later in the third.

Washington took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run double by Kurt Suzuki.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first as Castro, batting leadoff for the first time this year, doubled to right and scored on a groundout by Rizzo.

Outfielder Bryce Harper did not start for the Nationals due to an operation for an ingrown toenail on his right foot, according to Johnson.

Johnson said he expects the 20-year-old Harper to miss just one game. He is hitting .302 with 10 homers.

NOTES: Before the game, the Cubs activated right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa off the 15-day disabled list while right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis was sent to Triple-Iowa. "I am going to ease him in," Cubs' manager Dale Sveum said of Fujikawa, who had had been on the DL since April 13 with a muscular strain of his right forearm. ... Right-fielder Jayson Werth, bothered by a sore hamstring, is headed to the DL. "He is not doing too good," Johnson said before the game. Werth was doing leg curls Friday when he had leg spasms, according to Johnson. Johnson said possible outfield replacements are Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus, both of who are with Triple-A Syracuse. Perez is hitting .346. Perez was not in the starting lineup Friday night in Syracuse. ... Camp graduated from Robinson High in Fairfax, Va., about 20 miles south of Nationals Park.
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