Jason Hammel singled a line drive in the second and that’s all the support he needed as he struck out seven and only allowed five hits in a 7-2 Chicago Cubs’ win over the Nationals at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon.
The win marked the team’s fourth straight as they took the the series opener and improve to 4-0 on their road trip.
Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano hit back-to-back singles to start the game before Coghlan scored on Anthony Rizzo’s double play grounder for a 1-0 lead over the Nationals (46-39).
Jason Werth answered with a solo home run to left field off Hammel (8-5, 2.98 ERA) to tie it 1-1 after the first.
Hammel got the run back with a RBI single to regain the Cubs’ (38-46) lead and Ruggiano added a solo homer to the opposite field, right, to lead off the third for a 3-1 lead.
Coghlan doubled to lead off the fifth then scored on Rizzo’s grounder to first base for another run.
Hammel found himself in trouble in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff single to Ian Desmond and a walk to Wilson Ramos, but was able to strike out two and get a forceout to get out of the jam.
Anthony Rendon doubled to lead off the seventh and chase Hammel off the mound, who allowed two earned runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking two.
Neil Ramirez entered and allowed a RBI single to Ramos, but struck out two to hold a 4-2 Cubs’ lead. The Cubs added three more insurance runs in the ninth with a RBI single by Ruggiano and two-run single by Starlin Castro.
Tanner Roark (7-6) took the loss for the Nationals and allowed four earned runs on nine hits, striking out five and walking one over seven innings.
Ruggiano went 3-for-5 falling a triple shy of the cycle and two RBIs to improve his average to .271 on the year.
The Cubs will look to take their third straight road series with Jeff Samardzija (2-7, 2.83 ERA) on the mound against the Nationals and Gio Gonzalez (5-4, 3.93 ERA) will oppose him Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. on CSN.