LaRoche’s blast puts Nats on top (but not for long)

CHICAGO - Adam LaRoche has given the Nationals a 2-1 lead here in the fourth inning with a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole.

That’s one way for LaRoche to put his stinker of an opening day behind him.

The homer came on a 2-2 pitch from Cubs starter Matt Garza, who tried to blow a 95 mph fastball past LaRoche on the inner half. LaRoche stayed inside the ball, however, and was able to keep it fair - barely.

The blast from LaRoche was his first since April 24 of last season, and is the Nats’ first homer of 2012.

Gio Gonzalez now stands on the mound with a lead for the first time in his Nats tenure.

Gonzalez got off to a shaky start in the first inning, when he allowed Joe Mather and Starlin Castro to reach on a walk and a single, respectively, and then let Mather trot home on a wild pitch, giving the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.

The Nationals lefty has settled down a bit since then, but he’s yet to have a clean frame.

Update: That 2-1 lead didn’t last long, as Gonzalez got into trouble in the fourth and couldn’t get out of the frame.

Gonzalez gave up four hits and a walk in the fourth, with the big blow coming when Reed Johnson ripped a two-out two-run triple to right. Johnson then scored a batter later on a Joe Mather RBI single, giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

Davey Johnson has popped out of the dugout, and Craig Stammen now comes in to relieve Gonzalez with two outs.

Update II: Stammen got out of the jam, getting Alfonso Soriano to ground into a force out to end the threat.

Gonzalez’s final line: 3 2/3 innings, four runs, seven hits, three walks, six strikeouts and a wild pitch.

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