Game in a nutshell: Facing the Cubs for the first time since the season-opening series, the Nationals found themselves in the same kind of pitchers' duel they experienced five months ago at Wrigley Field. Ross Detwiler and Jeff Samardzija traded blows, with Samardzija making only one mistake: Adam LaRoche's second-inning homer. Detwiler never did cave in, tossing seven scoreless innings before turning it over to his bullpen. With Sean Burnett sidelined for at least a couple of days with elbow irritation, Drew Storen pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Tyler Clippard then closed out the ninth (despite giving up a run) to record his 30th save and give the Nationals their 82nd win of the season. That's right, D.C.: You've officially got yourselves a winning ballclub for the first time in 43 years.
Hitting highlight: Samardzija has had just about every member of the Nationals lineup's number this season. Except for LaRoche. The veteran first baseman crushed a ninth-inning homer of Samardzija way back on April 8 at Wrigley Field. Then he struck again in his first at-bat today, belting Samardzija's second pitch of the second inning into the second deck down the right-field line. After going through a month-long power slump, LaRoche may have found his stroke again. This was his second homer in three days, giving him a team-high 25 for the season and giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead that stayed intact almost the entire afternoon.
Pitching highlight: The Nationals have wanted Detwiler to be more aggressive, pound his fastball early in the game and go right after hitters. Well, he took the advice to heart today, because he did everything the club could have asked of him and more. Detwiler threw plenty of fastballs early, retiring the side in the top of the first on 10 pitches. He spread out four hits and three walks, only once putting more than one man on base in the same inning. He did have to pitch out of the stretch a lot, but delivered some big pitches when he needed them, especially in inducing a pair of double-play grounders to end the sixth and seventh innings. At 93 pitches, Detwiler might have been able to take the mound for the eighth. But with the Nationals clinging to a 1-0 lead, Davey Johnson preferred to use pinch-hitter Chad Tracy and turn to his bullpen to record the final six outs.
Key stat: Since the All-Star break, the Nationals are 32-5 when scoring three or more runs. They were 0-13 when scoring fewer than three runs ... until today.
Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when Edwin Jackson seeks his ninth win of the season against left-hander Chris Rusin.