After going all of April without a blowout victory, the Cubs have tallied two in the first full week of May. The visitors from Chicago got back at the Nationals in DC after dropping the series opener 3-7. Edwin Jackson must have felt comfortable in his old stomping grounds, as he flashed some of the quality that led to the Cubs signing him away from Washington with a big deal this past off season. Jackson matched phenom and former rotation mate Stephen Strasburg inning for inning in a surprising pitching duel until the Cubs offense got to the Nationals righty in the fifth inning. That effort from the Cubs number two starter included four strikeouts through four frames.
After Luis Valbuena was caught at third trying to stretch a double into a triple for the second out, it would have been easy to think the inning was on its way to being over. But the throwing error prone Ryan Zimmerman gifted an extra out to the Cubs and the boys in blue made the rare occasion of taking advantage of it. With Darwin Barney earning a walk ahead of him to put two runners on, Jackson took matters into his own hands by driving a double over speedy center fielder Denard Span, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The Cubs pitcher is a career .192 hitter and the double was his first in the Majors. But the Cubs did not stop there. A walk and a single to the next two hitters loaded the bases for Anthony Rizzo, who snuck a single up the middle to past Strasburg and the second baseman for two more runs.
Ian Desmond continued to be a thorn in the side of the Cubs and responded back for the Nationals to lead off the bottom half of the fifth with a solo job, his sixth of the season. But Jackson would settle down to avoid allowing the home team to get any further. The Cubs offense picked up the run and then some in the top of the sixth for their starting pitcher. Alfonso Soriano doubled to lead off and came home from third two batters later on a wild pitch. Cody Ransom then drove in Nate Schierholtz to make it 6-1. A hit batter and two outs later, David DeJesus came up with the clutch base knock to drive in Ransom and Welington Castillo and the rout was on.
Jackson began to revert to his 2013 struggles in the bottom of the sixth, walking two and then allowing a single to Adam LaRoche to load the bases. Shawn Camp was brought in to attempt to limit the damage and was successful, only allowing one inherited runner to score. The culprit was again Desmond, this time with a single to left. The Cubs offense had a couple more opportunities to pad their lead the rest of the way, but was unable to score any further off of the Washington bullpen. That was a non issue on Saturday afternoon, however, as the Cubs bullpen shut down the Nationals the rest of the way. Camp worked around a one out triple in the seventh with no damage and Hector Rondon worked a perfect eighth, including a strikeout of the aforementioned Desmond to end the frame. With the comfortable lead, the Rule 5 pick was allowed to finish off the ninth inning and validated the decision with another clean inning.
Jackson finally got his first win as a Cub and surprisingly has a matching 1-5 record with Nationals ace Strasburg. The Cubs pounded out 12 hits, which has not been the problem this season, but on Saturday they also made sure the hits count by plating eight runs.