CHICAGO – Ryan Zimmerman hit two home runs off a shaky Jon Lester and tied a career high with six RBIs, sending the Washington Nationals over the Chicago Cubs 9-4 on Saturday.
Zimmerman hit a two-run homer in the first inning, had a sacrifice fly to the warning track in the third and chased Lester with a three-run drive in the fourth that made it 9-1. He is batting .355 (16 for 45) with four homers and 16 RBIs in 14 games since returning from the disabled list last month.
Daniel Murphy also homered and had three hits, helping Tanner Roark (7-12) win his fourth straight start.
Lester (12-5) was tagged for eight earned runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander is winless in his last five starts for the NL Central leaders, going 0-3 with a 10.32 ERA during that span.
Anthony Rizzo got his 1,000th career hit for the Cubs. Ben Zobrist drove in two runs and Addison Russell had three hits for Chicago.
Roark (7-12) allowed two runs on nine hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one. The right-hander has allowed four earned runs over 29 2/3 innings during the four-start winning streak.
The native of Wilmington – about 60 miles south of Wrigley Field – is 4-0 with 2.74 ERA in his last five starts against the Cubs.
After Lester retired the first two batters of the game, Bryce Harper singled and Zimmerman homered to center.
Washington broke it open with six runs in the fourth. Murphy had a two-run homer, Trea Turner drove in a run with a single and Zimmerman capped the burst with his ninth home run.
Willson Contreras singled in a run in the eighth on Roark’s 117th and final pitch.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (pinched nerve in neck) threw a 64-pitch bullpen on Saturday and said that he “felt really good.” He’s scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday. If all goes well in that, a rehab start likely will be the next step. “We want to make sure when he does get back, he’s going to pitch every five days,” manager Dave Martinez said.
Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) took ground balls and a few swings on Saturday, but there is no timetable for his return.
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (15-5, 2.28 ERA) will try to become the majors’ first 16-game winner in the finale of the series on Sunday night. Scherzer also leads the majors in strikeouts with 216 in 161 2/3 innings. LHP Cole Hamels (7-9, 4.38) makes his third start with the Cubs. He has allowed just one earned in 11 innings during the first two starts.