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Washington at Chicago

Scoreboard
Washington (12-10) «110100000341
Chi. Cubs (10-12)110000000290

Nationals 3, Cubs 2

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CHICAGO -- Luis Atilano fits right in with the rest of the Washington Nationals. Little was expected from the rookie right-hander, either.

An eighth-year minor leaguer who was promoted only because Jason Marquis got hurt, Atilano has won both of his starts for the Nationals, pitching six quality innings each time.

He worked out of trouble repeatedly Wednesday, allowing two runs on six singles and three walks in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"I didn't know about Atilano, really. We didn't have a plan for him to be in the rotation," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "He wasn't quite [as good as] he was against the Dodgers [in his April 23 debut] but ... he really kept his composure and battled."

Atilano's pitching has helped Washington to a 12-10 record, the franchise's best start since relocating from Montreal in 2005. A winning April is guaranteed -- and that's a big deal for a team that lost 103 games last season and 102 the year before that.

The Nationals even survived a week without injured star Ryan Zimmerman, who is expected back for the club's next game Friday.

"I know we're capable of playing this way, but it's so early," said Adam Dunn, whose fourth-inning homer snapped a 2-2 tie. "The positive thing is we still don't have our A-lineup. If we continue to get the pitching and play defense, we're going to be fine."

Atilano, who turns 25 in two weeks, pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fifth by retiring Marlon Byrd on an infield fly and Mike Fontenot on a grounder. After Fontenot's out, Atilano pumped his fist to celebrate.

"You've got to be pumped up," he said. "I don't care if I win the game easy or hard. I just like to win."

Brian Bruney, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Capps earned his major league-leading 10th save in 10 attempts. Washington's bullpen has a 0.77 ERA in its last eight games.

Ryan Dempster (2-1) lost for the first time in eight career decisions against the Nationals-Expos franchise. He allowed only four hits and one walk in eight innings but each hit factored in the scoring: solo homers by Dunn and Adam Kennedy and second-inning singles by Roger Bernadina and Wil Nieves.

It was 2-2 in the fourth when Dunn put Dempster's 3-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers. Dunn has 41 homers in 409 career at-bats against the Cubs.

Twelve of Chicago's 22 games have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Cubs are 4-8 in those games -- a big reason they have a 10-12 record. They also are 1-9 when scoring three or fewer runs.

Manager Lou Piniella was upset the Cubs stranded 11 runners, and he got testy when asked if he considered having Fontenot bunt after Byrd led off the eighth with a double against Clippard.

"Bunting what? With a left-handed hitter up, you want to bunt? What kind of baseball do you play?" Piniella asked a reporter. "How about getting him in? Or getting him over by swinging? How about that?"

Fontenot popped out and Clippard didn't allow any more hits.

All five Cubs starters have sub-3.00 ERAs but the team still is having trouble winning. Nevertheless, Dempster refused to blame the hitters.

"Win a game 2-1 once in a while," he said. "I could have done a better job. I gave up a hit [to Nieves] with the pitcher on deck and I gave up a solo home run to a guy [Dunn] you don't want to let beat you. I've just got to be sharper next time."

Aramis Ramirez had a sacrifice fly, but the Chicago cleanup hitter is batting .155. And No. 3 hitter Derrek Lee has a .203 average.

"It doesn't help when I'm not getting on base and driving people in [from] the middle of the order," Lee said. "I have to start pulling my weight."

Notes
  • Cubs CF Byrd lost Atilano's fifth-inning fly in the sun but still managed to make a no-look, behind-the-back catch while falling to his knees.
  • Cubs SS Ryan Theriot had two singles and drove in the other Chicago run. He is batting .487 during an eight-game hitting streak, with multiple hits in seven of those games.
  • The Nationals are 6-2 in games caught by Nieves.
  • Kennedy was in a 2-for-20 slump before his first homer this season.
 
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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Marlon Byrd loses the ball in the sun, but ends up making a no-look, behind the back catch.  (AP)
Marlon Byrd loses the ball in the sun, but ends up making a no-look, behind the back catch. (AP)

Players of the Game
Washington

L. Atilano
IP 6.0
H 6
ER 2
BB 3
K 1
Chicago

R. Theriot
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Washington Nationals
Nyjer Morgan, CF3000120 .280
Adam Kennedy, 3B-1B4111011 .214
Cristian Guzman, 2B4000000 .272
Adam Dunn, 1B4111010 .227
    Willy Taveras, LF0000000 .154
Josh Willingham, LF4000000 .286
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Roger Bernadina, RF3110000 .250
Ian Desmond, SS3000010 .246
Wil Nieves, C3011010 .226
Luis Atilano, P2000001 .000
    Brian Bruney, P0000000 .000
   a- Justin Maxwell, PH1000000 .174
    Tyler Clippard, P00000001.000
    Alberto Gonzalez, 3B0000000 .300
Totals3134316  
a-grounded out for Bruney in the 8th
Batting
HR - Adam Kennedy (1, Dempster), Adam Dunn (4, Dempster)
RBI - Adam Kennedy (10), Adam Dunn (9), Wil Nieves (4)
2-OUT RBI - Wil Nieves (2)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Guzman-Dunn
E - Adam Kennedy (2, Dropped fly)
Washington Nationals
Luis Atilano (W,2-0) 6622310 2.25
Brian Bruney (H,2) 1200000 5.06
Tyler Clippard (H,5) 1100110 0.54
Matt Capps (S,10) 1000010 0.68
Pitches-Strikes - Luis Atilano 91-58, Brian Bruney 18-10, Tyler Clippard 17-11, Matt Capps 10-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luis Atilano 8-10, Brian Bruney 2-0, Matt Capps 1-1
Batters Faced - Luis Atilano 28, Brian Bruney 4, Tyler Clippard 5, Matt Capps 3
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Theriot, SS5121003 .333
Kosuke Fukudome, RF3010201 .333
Derrek Lee, 1B5010012 .203
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4011001 .155
Tyler Colvin, LF3010101 .325
Marlon Byrd, CF4010006 .333
Mike Fontenot, 2B4120004 .308
Koyie Hill, C3000011 .286
   a- Chad Tracy, PH1000011 .143
    Geovany Soto, C0000000 .362
Ryan Dempster, P2000001 .111
   b- Xavier Nady, PH0000100 .200
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .000
Totals3429243  
a-struck out for Hill in the 8th
b-walked for Dempster in the 8th
Batting
2B - Marlon Byrd (9, Clippard)
SF - Aramis Ramirez (2)
SH - Ryan Dempster (6)
RBI - Ryan Theriot (11), Aramis Ramirez (12)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Theriot (5)
Team LOB - 11
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster (L,2-1) 8433162 2.78
Sean Marshall 1000000 3.27
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 98-62, Sean Marshall 8-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 10-8
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 29, Sean Marshall 3
Game Information
Attendance - 36660
Game Time - 2:21
Temperature - 51
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Greg Gibson, Third Base - Scott Barry