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Chi. Cubs (15-8)001010010381
Washington (8-16) «200001002570

Nieves' walk-off homer lifts Nationals past Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Wil Nieves wanted to move the runner up with a hit to right field in the ninth inning. Next thing he knows he's rounding the bases with his first major league homer -- a game-winner.

Nieves, who started the season with Triple-A Columbus, homered off Bob Howry into the Washington bullpen in right field to give the Nationals a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs, their second straight win after dropping 16 of 19 games.

"I was just trying to hit the ball the other way," the 30-year-old Nieves said. "He got the ball up. I didn't know I had it. When it went out, it was a great feeling. I felt like I was running out on the clouds."

Earlier today, Nieves' wife arrived in Washington from Puerto Rico, and she was resting at the hotel because Nieves wasn't in the starting lineup.

"I just imagine her screaming," Nieves said. "Probably the hotel management is going to the room to see what's going on."

Nieves had brief stints with San Diego and the New York Yankees but never hit a home run. The game-winner came in his 163rd career at-bat.

"Always nice to see anybody get their first big league home run. And the way he did it, opposite field to win a ball a game, meant just a great feeling for a kid who came to camp hoping to stick as a backup," Washington manager Manny Acta said.

Nieves is only with Washington because Paul Lo Duca is on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right hand, and he and Acta know his time with the Nationals may be brief.

"I think he's obviously impressing a lot of people, but it will be a push unless we decide to keep three catchers," Acta said.

Austin Kearns led off the ninth with a single off Howry (0-2). Kearns, who was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats, was held out of the starting lineup for the first time this season by Acta. He entered the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement.

After Willie Harris struck out, Nieves, who entered in the seventh as part of a double switch, hit a drive to the opposite field, and Washington had its second win in its final at-bat of the season.

"Backup catcher gets hold of a high fastball -- that was that," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said.

Howry, who has a career 3.49 ERA in his 10 previous major league seasons, is off to a rough start. He has given up 10 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. He admitted to not knowing much about Nieves.

"It doesn't matter if it's him, or anybody," Howry said. "That location is never a good spot to try and get somebody out."

Jon Rauch (2-0), Washington's fifth pitcher, worked a perfect ninth.

Chicago, the NL Central leaders, had won six of its previous seven. They left 10 runners on, leaving Piniella to moan about missed chances.

"We had every chance in the world to win it," Piniella said. "We just didn't do it."

Nick Johnson hit a two-run home run off Ryan Dempster into the second deck in right field in the first inning. It was the first home run to reach the second deck of Nationals Park since it opened this season.

The Cubs cut it to 2-1 in the third off Odalis Perez when the left-hander hit Reed Johnson with a pitch with one out. He scored on Ryan Theriot's double.

In the fifth Johnson led off with a single, advanced on a walk and moved to third on a fly before scoring on a fielder's choice.

Washington took a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Cristian Guzman reached on an error by first baseman Derrek Lee leading off. After Ryan Zimmerman singled and Johnson bounced into a double play with Guzman taking third, Lastings Milledge hit an RBI single to right.

Chicago tied it at 3 in the eighth. Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukodome led off with singles off Luis Ayala. They moved up to second and third on Mark DeRosa's sacrifice.

Geovany Soto was walked intentionally to load the bases, and after Daryle Ward was announced as a pinch-hitter, Acta brought in left-hander Mike O'Connor. Piniella countered with the right-handed Matt Murton. O'Connor walked Murton to score Ramirez with the tying run.

Notes

  • Washington RHP Chad Cordero threw from 150 feet before Friday's game and said he's ready to pitch. Cordero, who has tendinitis in his right shoulder, will pitch in Saturday's game, Acta said.
  • OF Elijah Dukes, who's been on the 15-day disabled list since March 30 with a right hamstring injury, will begin a rehab assignment at Class A Potomac on Saturday.
  • Injured Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano worked out before Friday night's game. "I think I'll be available to play on May 1," he said. Soriano will work out again on Sunday.
  • Chicago LHP Rich Hill, normally a starter, could be used in relief on Saturday or Sunday, Piniella said.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Wil Nieves rounds the bases after hitting his first major league homer, a walk-off.  (AP)
Wil Nieves rounds the bases after hitting his first major league homer, a walk-off. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

W. Nieves
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Chicago

A. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Chicago Cubs
Reed Johnson, CF4210013 .308
Ryan Theriot, SS4021100 .329
Derrek Lee, 1B4010112 .357
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4121100 .284
Kosuke Fukudome, RF4020004 .346
Mark DeRosa, LF2000122 .276
Geovany Soto, C3000131 .338
Ronny Cedeno, 2B3000011 .343
   a- Daryle Ward, PH0000000 .077
   b- Matt Murton, PH0001100 .100
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
Ryan Dempster, P3000001 .111
   c- Henry Blanco, PH0000000 .357
   d- Mike Fontenot, PH-2B1000013 .205
Totals3238369  
a-announced for Cedeno in the 8th
b-walked for Ward in the 8th
c-announced for Dempster in the 8th
d-struck out for Blanco in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Theriot (6, O. Perez), Derrek Lee (7, O. Perez), Kosuke Fukudome (6, O. Perez)
SH - Mark DeRosa (1)
RBI - Ryan Theriot (7), Aramis Ramirez (17), Matt Murton (3)
CS - Ryan Theriot 2 (5, 3rd base by O. Perez/Estrada, 2nd base by Ayala/Nieves)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Cedeno-Theriot-Lee
E - Derrek Lee (2, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster 7432351 2.90
Carlos Marmol 1100210 1.65
Bob Howry (L,0-2) 0.1222011 7.30
WP - Ryan Dempster (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 108-62, Carlos Marmol 20-9, Bob Howry 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 11-4, Carlos Marmol 2-0
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 27, Carlos Marmol 6, Bob Howry 3
Washington Nationals
Felipe Lopez, 2B4000011 .254
Cristian Guzman, SS4110000 .314
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B2110210 .230
Nick Johnson, 1B4112023 .211
Lastings Milledge, CF2021200 .287
Johnny Estrada, C3000003 .214
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
    Mike O'Connor, P0000000 .000
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
   a- Aaron Boone, PH1000003 .280
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
Wily Mo Pena, LF3000010 .167
    Austin Kearns, RF1110000 .202
Rob Mackowiak, RF2000110 .067
    Willie Harris, LF1000011 .156
Odalis Perez, P1000000 .222
    Wil Nieves, C2112000 .350
Totals3057557  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Rivera in the 8th
Batting
HR - Nick Johnson (3, Dempster), Wil Nieves (1, Howry)
SH - Odalis Perez (1)
RBI - Nick Johnson 2 (14), Lastings Milledge (8), Wil Nieves 2 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Johnson 2 (7), Lastings Milledge (3)
CS - Lastings Milledge (3, 2nd base by Dempster/Soto)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Nieves-F. Lopez
Washington Nationals
Odalis Perez 6522470 3.31
Luis Ayala (H,6) 1.1311110 3.65
Mike O'Connor (BS,1)0000100 0.00
Saul Rivera 0.2000010 4.41
Jon Rauch (W,2-0) 1000000 5.06
IBB - Soto by Luis Ayala
HBP - Johnson (by Odalis Perez)
Pitches-Strikes - Odalis Perez 101-60, Luis Ayala 24-14, Mike O'Connor 5-1, Saul Rivera 6-5, Jon Rauch 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Odalis Perez 5-5, Luis Ayala 1-1, Saul Rivera 1-0
Batters Faced - Odalis Perez 27, Luis Ayala 7, Mike O'Connor 1, Saul Rivera 2, Jon Rauch 3
Game Information
Attendance - 35154
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Jim Wolf, Second Base - Ed Montague, Third Base - Jerry Layne