The Cubs center fielder went 2-for-4 and doubled in a pair of
go-ahead runs in the seventh inning as Chicago beat the Washington
Nationals 5-3 in the opener of a four-game series.
"The fog was tough," said Ruggiano, whose hit off National's
reliever Craig Stammen (0-3) broke a 3-3 tie. "The only thing I can
compare it to was a snow game (in Triple-A) where the ball went up
and I don't think anyone ever saw where it landed.
"(But) it was nice to help out. You always feel like hitting in
front of (Anthony) Rizzo you're going to get pitches to hit. ... And
as a two-hole hitter I think it's your responsibility to be looking
(for) good pitches."
The game had some scary moments in the second inning as Cubs
outfielder Junior Lake crashed into a door while chasing a deep fly
Lake hit the side of his head and knee and suffered a contusion. He
left the game unaided and suffered no concussion symptoms according
to a post-game report.
"He hit that thing really hard," said Ruggiano who started the game
next to Lake in right. "I don't think he slowed down on it at all.
He wasn't moving at first and that was kind of scary. Then I started
talking to him and he was responding."
Ruggiano's game-winning hit came off Nationals reliever Craig
Stammen (0-3) and broke a 3-3 tie.
Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez (1-1) worked 1/3 of an inning in the
seventh for the victory and closer Hector Rondon worked a 1-2-3
ninth for his ninth save of the season.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos -- in his first game back from the
disabled list -- and center fielder Denard Span each had two hits.
The loss was Washington's second straight. Chicago won for only the
second time in six games.
The Cubs (33-44) built a 3-0 lead while starter Travis Wood sailed
through five scoreless innings before the Nationals (41-37) tagged
him for their first run.
Span led off the sixth inning with a double and scored on third
baseman Anthony Rendon's single to right to trim the Chicago lead to
Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena tripled to center with two outs in
the sixth but was stranded when catcher Welington Castillo flied out
In the seventh, Span launched a two-run double to the right field
corner, scoring Ramos and second baseman Danny Espinosa to tie the
score 3-3. Span was thrown out at second.
That was all for Wood, who worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed three
earned runs and seven hits, walked five and struck out four.
"It turned into (a grind), walks through the first couple of
innings, I spaced out," Wood said. "To walk two there in the seventh
you can't have that. Walks ended up hurting me again tonight."
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Nationals starter Doug Fister did not return for the seventh,
working six innings and giving up three earned runs and seven hits
while striking out just one.
"We battled back," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "We find
ourselves in that position a lot where if we are down early we have
a chances to come back. But it didn't work out tonight."
The Cubs reclaimed the lead in the seventh against Stammen as
Ruggiano tripled down the left field line with two outs, scoring
second baseman Darwin Barney and left fielder Ryan Sweeney to open a
Nationals left fielder Ryan Zimmerman led off the second inning with
a double to deep right center, a play that saw Lake injured with
running for a catch. Zimmerman, meanwhile, later tried to score on
Ramos' single to left but was thrown out at home on a tag by
Ramos was playing in his first game since June 10. He was activated
off the disabled list (strained right hamstring) earlier Thursday
and inserted in the lineup against the Cubs.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro lined a short single to left with none
out in the fourth to score Ruggiano from third and Rizzo from second
for a 2-0 Cubs lead.
Castro moved to second on a wild pitch and came home on Castillo's
base hit to center to make it 3-0.
NOTES: Washington activated C Wilson Ramos from the disabled list
and optioned C Sandy Leon to Triple-A Syracuse. Ramos missed the
minimum 15 days with a strained right hamstring. ... The Nationals
and Cubs will become quite familiar with each other during the next
11 days. In addition to four consecutive games in Chicago --
including a Saturday doubleheader and a rare Sunday off -- the teams
meet three times in Washington on July 4-6. ... The Nationals send
RHP Tanner Roark (7-4, 2.79 ERA) against Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (6-5,
2.99 ERA) on Friday in the second game of the series. ... The Cubs
faced a right-hander (Doug Fister) for the 15th consecutive game
Thursday, and they are due to face another Friday before Nationals
LHP Gio Gonzalez is scheduled to start the opener of Saturday's
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