CHICAGO - Yet again, the Nationals battled back from a deficit, finding a way to even the score with the Cubs after trailing 3-0 in the fourth inning tonight.
Three Nats runs in the seventh tied the ballgame, but the tie was short-lived, as the Cubs immediately responded with two runs off Craig Stammen in the bottom of the seventh and held on for a 5-3 win in the opener of this four-game set.
Denard Span had two doubles and two RBIs, Wilson Ramos had two hits and a walk, and Doug Fister battled through six innings allowing just the three runs, but Justin Ruggiano’s two-run double in the seventh lifted the Cubs to the win.
Here are quotes from the clubhouse after a funky game played in a heavy fog that hung over Wrigley Field:
On the Cubs taking the lead right back after the Nats had evened the score: “Stammen’s been really good for us. It started with (Darwin) Barney, wanted to go down and away with a slider and hung it over the middle of the plate. But he was one pitch away from getting out of it too. It’s tough to see from the dugout, but I don’t know how far that ball was fair. Not by a lot. We battled back. We find ourselves in that position a lot, where if we are down early, we’ve got a chance to come back. And we’ve done that a lot. It didn’t work out for us tonight.”
On the foggy conditions: “Just the ball that goes above the lights, you can’t see it at all. The one to center, Denard had no idea. The one in the first inning, (Ryan Zimmerman) had no idea either. It’s tough. I’ve seen it on TV, never experienced it live. It’s difficult if that ball goes in the air.”
On Fister’s outing, in which he allowed three runs on seven hits and threw 102 pitches: “It wasn’t as clean tonight. He was able to keep us in it though. We were able to tie it. He kept us in it. It could’ve gotten much worse than that. He made some pitches when he needed to, and we ended up tying it. But not enough tonight.”
On trying to read balls off the bat in the fog: “Just rough conditions. There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that. I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game with that much fog. You just try to concentrate and try to keep your eye on the ball as long as possible and hope that you can gauge where the ball’s going to be after it’s hit.”
On Williams having Fister bunt in front of him in the seventh instead of calling on a pinch-hitter: “I mean, honestly, I knew whether he decided to bunt there or not that I was going to have to have a big at-bat coming in either way. But obviously knowing that he did that, just shows, it made me feel good, I guess. I don’t know. In the moment, I’m not really thinking about that. I’m just trying to get a good pitch and drive in those runs, or at least drive in one run, if anything.”
On his running basket catch in right-center: “No, actually, that one, I was running and Jayson Werth, I saw him kinda in my peripheral coming towards me, so I was kinda keeping my eye on the ball and trying not to collide with him. But yeah, like I said, there were a few balls I had to keep my eye on as I was running to get the ball.”
On the bottom of the seventh: “Threw a couple pitches down the middle and they got hits off them and scored a couple runs. That was the game.”
On his approach against Ruggiano: “I was trying to stay away but I threw it right down the middle. ... It was right on the (left field foul) line, but it was a bad pitch, so whatever. I mean, you can take luck out of it at that point.”
On the Cubs taking the lead right back after the Nats had tied it: “Gotta shut them down after we get the momentum and keep the momentum somehow. And I made a couple pitches that got the momentum in their favor and they capitalized.”
On his outing: “They battled well tonight. I didn’t execute a couple pitches, got them out over the middle of the plate, up in the zone, whatever it may be, and they capitalized on them. They took those bad pitches and turned them into a couple runs.”
On an infield hit and a broken-bat, two-run single being a part of the Cubs’ three-run third: “I felt good. I felt like I was executing. But at the same time, the pitches need to be a little better. I need to make sure they’re in or out a little bit more. If I get it in a little bit farther on that jam shot over the infield, who knows? A lot of shoulda, woulda, couldas. It’s just a matter of going out and getting it done. Five days from now, we’ll go back out and get it done.”