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Tanner Roark, Daniel Murphy lead Nationals to dominant game-one win over Cubs

Tanner Roark, Daniel Murphy lead Nationals to dominant game-one win over Cubs

CHICAGO -- Daniel Murphy hit two home runs to back Tanner Roark, and the Washington Nationals won the opener of a series between division leaders by beating the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on a chilly Friday afternoon.

With the game-time temperature at 63, Murphy hit a two-run homer in the first and connected off Kyle Hendricks leading off the sixth for a 3-0 lead.

Roark (9-7) didn't allow a run until Javier Baez chased him with a two-run homer with one out in the seventh. Roark allowed five hits while improving to 3-1 in his past four starts.

Hendricks (4-4) gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. Chicago has lost three straight after winning 14 of 17 following the All-Star break.

Murphy hit a two-run drive halfway up the bleachers in right-center in the first, then went the opposite way in the sixth, driving his 19th home run to left-center. That gave him two multi-homer games this season and five in his career.

After Baez cut the lead to one in the seventh with his 15th home run, Brian Kintzler got the final two outs of the inning.

Anthony Rendon hit a sacrifice fly against Carl Edwards Jr. in the eighth.

Ryan Madson worked the bottom half, and Sean Doolittle finished for his fifth save in as many chances since he was acquired from Oakland on July 16. He gave up a leadoff single to Jason Heyward before striking out Baez and getting Ian Happ to ground into a double play.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez will miss their scheduled starts this weekend. Manager Dusty Baker decided to give Scherzer at least an extra day rather than have him pitch Sunday after the right-hander exited Tuesday's game against Florida because of neck spasms. Gonzalez won't pitch Saturday with his wife expects to give birth to their second child within the next few days. ... Baker said RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) is getting better, but Baker did not say when he will make his next start. ... The Nationals placed LHP Enny Romero on the 10-daydDL on Friday because of forearm tightness.

Cubs: SS Addison Russell was placed on the 10-day DL on Friday because of a strained right foot. The Cubs recalled LHP Rob Zastryzny from Triple-A Iowa.

UP NEXT

Cubs RHP John Lackey (8-9, 4.87 ERA) looks to improve to 4-0 since the All-Star break when he starts Saturday, while RHP Edwin Jackson (2-1, 2.84) gets the ball for Washington in Gonzalez's place.

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Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

Why Nationals' Max Scherzer picked college over pros — at first

When Max Scherzer was a teenager, he didn't know that one day he'd actually become a two-time Cy Young Award winner. He had no guarantee he'd make it to the majors, much less play in five consecutive MLB All-Star games. 

All he knew was that he had the option to go pro as a kid or go to college, and back then, the Nationals' ace needed a contingency plan in case baseball didn't work out. Fortunately for Scherzer, it did, but he doesn't regret going to college at the University of Missouri, telling Santana Moss on CSN's "Route 89" going to school was a no-brainer.

"It was actually a really easy decision," Scherzer told Moss. "When you get drafted out of high school, you're going to be going into the minor leagues, and that can take three to five or six years — multiple years — in the minor leagues, and you're forfeiting your right to further your education."

Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003, but he opted to play for Mizzou for three years, which turned out to be a great decision. The Arizona Diamondbacks then drafted him in 2006 in the first round as the 11th overall pick. 

"A lot of times when you sign out of high school, you don't make it to the major leagues," Scherzer continued. "So I realize that your education — that's your safety net.

"You need to further your education in college, and if you do get drafted out of college, you're in a much better position to try to chase your dreams because if it doesn't work out, you still have one year left of school and that's much easier to obtain rather than try to go through four years when you're not coming out of high school."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound

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Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

Nationals offense provides no support in Strasburg's return

SAN DIEGO -- Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run home run off Stephen Strasburg in the first inning of the right-hander's first start in almost a month and the San Diego Padres beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 Saturday night.

Strasburg (10-4) retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a single to Jose Pirela and then the homer to the switch-hitting Solarte, who drove a 96-mph fastball to right for his 13th.

Strasburg then settled down against his hometown team, retiring 10 straight batters and 13 of 14. He went six innings, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out eight and walking one.

He hadn't pitched since July 23, when he went only two innings at Arizona. He went on the disabled list with an elbow nerve impingement.

Strasburg pitched at West Hills High in suburban Santee and then at San Diego State for coach Tony Gwynn before going to the Nationals with the No. 1 pick overall in the 2009 draft.

While Strasburg pitched well, the Nationals had only three hits.

San Diego's Travis Wood (2-1) also settled down after laboring through the first inning, when he threw 35 pitches but didn't allow a run. He was unscathed until the fifth, when he allowed a one-out single to Jose Lobaton and a two-out double to Adrian Sanchez. The run was unearned because of Woods' throwing error on Strasburg's sacrifice bunt that advanced Lobaton.

Wood allowed just the unearned run on three hits in seven innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Brad Hand pitched the ninth for his 11th save.