WASHINGTON (AP) — After Jordan Zimmermann put the Washington Nationals in position to win on the mound, Denard Span's legs and Ryan Zimmerman's bat made sure they beat the Chicago Cubs.
Zimmerman's eighth inning single drove in Span for the go-ahead run as the surging Nationals capped a strong weekend with a 2-1 win over the Cubs on Sunday.
The expected pitcher's duel took place as Zimmermann outdueled Jake Arrieta over six innings and left with a 1-0 lead.
"The starter for them today was as advertised, tough," Zimmerman said of Arrieta. "The way Jordan pitched, that was a game we needed to win."
The Cubs tied it in the seventh on Starlin Castro's sacrifice fly against Drew Storen.
Span's hustle turned a soft hit to right field off Pedro Strop (1-4) into a double leading off the eighth. The Cubs challenged the play, but replay showed that the sliding Span avoided the tag.
"The fact that he broke out of the box hard and thought two (bases) from the beginning of it was key for us," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.
Two outs later, the Cubs intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to bring up Zimmerman, who ripped a single to left to score Span from second.
Tyler Clippard (6-2) worked out of trouble in the eighth inning. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth and earned his 21st save for the Nationals, who have won seven of eight.
Washington moved within one-half game of NL East-leading Atlanta.
The Nationals took two of three games in the series, including 13-0 on Saturday to break Chicago's four-game winning streak.
Zimmermann allowed seven hits with one walk and struck out five. He has given up two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 1.26 ERA in that span.
"I think he found his slider," Williams said. "Gives him another weapon."
The Cubs had at least one hit in each of the first six innings, but couldn't generate a clutch one versus Zimmermann. Chicago left 12 runners on base and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
"I fell behind hitters and wasn't able to throw first-pitch strikes," Zimmermann said. "Guys got on base, and I had to work out of a few jams. Other than that I threw the ball well."
Continue reading this story on the...