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Roark lives dream, leads Nationals past Cubs

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Nationals reliever Tanner Roark got the chance to live his dream on Wednesday.

Pitching in front of a vocal delegation from his suburban Wilmington, Ill. hometown, Roark worked 1 2/3 sometimes stressful innings to pick up the win as the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 11-6 at Wrigley Field.

"It's been a dream of mine to play in Wrigley," said Roark (3-0) "I've been a Cubs fan growing up. I've been in the bleachers where all the (hometown) fans were at today.

"It was great, I heard them all game. They were louder than the whole entire stadium. It was awesome to have that kind of support.

The Washington right-hander worked through the sixth inning, gave up two runs and four straight hits while striking out three.

He was also the beneficiary of a timely three-run, pinch-hit home run from Scott Hairston that snapped a 6-6 tie and put the Nationals ahead for good.

Hairston, who came to the plate with two out in the seventh launched a long shot to left off Cubs reliever James Russell, driving in Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth with his 11th career pinch-hit homer.

"Being in that situation I wanted to capitalize with runners on," he said. "(Russell) is a tough pitcher to face in that situation. I hung in there, fouled a couple of pitches off and he threw me a few good change ups in that at-bat."

Denard Span added an eighth inning triple to score Kurt Suzuki and came home on Ryan Zimmerman's base hit. Both runs came off Hector Rondon, the fifth Cubs pitcher of the night, after two were out.

"Eleven runs, you'd think is was Christmas," Washington manager Davey Johnson said.

"It was a weird ballgame with all kinds of strange things happening. But (starter Ross) Ohlendorf pitched real good and kind of ran out of gas, then Roark gave up (four) straight hits.

"But the offense came around and it was great to see Scottie Hairston get a big hit for us."

The victory was the second straight for the Nationals; the Cubs have now dropped four of their last five and eight of 10.

Russell (1-4) took the loss after giving up three runs on two hits in the seventh inning.

Ohlendorf, activated off the disabled list earlier Wednesday, had no decision in his first appearance since July 31.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with a first inning solo home run. But the Nationals replied with three runs in the next two innings.

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta loaded the bases with one out in the second, walking two batters and giving up a base hit to another.

Kurt Suzuki singled home Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche. Ohlendorf then placed a perfect sacrifice bunt in front of home plate, scoring Steve Lombardozzi from third.

Jayson Werth clubbed his 18th home run of the season in the third with none out, driving home Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper for a 6-1 Washington lead.

Arrieta worked through a scoreless fourth before departing in favor of right-handed reliever Carlos Villanueva. He allowed six earned runs on five hits, walked four and struck out five.

The Cubs erupted for five runs in the fifth and chased Ohlendorf.

Rizzo launched his second homer of the night and 20th of the season -- a two-run shot to right that scored Starlin Castro. The homer cleared the park and cut the deficit to 6-3.

"That was the one good thing that came out of the day," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It was nice to see Rizzo swing the bat like that."

Ohlendorf left the game with one out in the fifth and one runner on base. He allowed four earned runs on six hits, walked two and struck out a pair.

Roark entered and gave up four straight base hits and three more runs as the Cubs cut the Nationals' lead to 6-5.

Donnie Murphy's single scored Junior Lake while Cole Gillespie had a pinch-hint base hit to drive in Nate Schierholtz.

Welington Castillo then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Murphy.

NOTES: The Nationals officially activated Ohlendorf a few hours before Wednesday's game and inserted him right into the lineup. He had a 5.14 ERA in two rehab assignments. ... Washington also optioned LHP Ian Kroll to Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. He was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in 27 appearances. ... Werth continues to lead the National League in batting average since July 1. He was hitting .403 since the start of July and .458 since August opened coming into Wednesday. ... Wednesday's game was the 13th straight in which the Cubs have faced a right-handed starter. They last were up against a left-handed starter on Aug. 7 in Philadelphia. ... The Cubs send left-hander Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13 ERA) against National's right-hander Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93) in Thursday's series finale.
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