Cubs 4, Nationals 0

By Chris Rewers on Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hero: Ryan Dempster (12-8), now 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his five August starts, allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out eight over seven shutout innings.

Goats: Marlon Byrd, who returned to the lineup after missing a game with a wrist injury, and Blake DeWitt each went 0-for-4.

Key Play: After Washington manager Jim Riggleman hooked starter Jason Marquis with one out in the eighth, Starlin Castro greeted reliever Tyler Clippard with an RBI double to snap a scoreless tie.

Comments: Starting pitchers Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Casey Coleman combined to allow just two earned runs on 10 hits in 20 2/3 innings (0.87 ERA) while striking out 19 and walking four as the Cubs (54-74) completed a three-game series sweep of Washington (53-74) - their first series sweep since taking three straight at Arizona, July 5-7.

Aramis Ramirez (2-for-4), who hit his 20th homer of the season with a man aboard in the eighth, is hitting .313 with 10 homers since the All-Star break and .338 with five homers in August.

Former National Alfonso Soriano.who hit his 21st homer of the season in the ninth, homered in back-to-back games for just the second time this season. He previously accomplished the feat May 22-23 at Texas, another of his former teams.

It was the first time that Ramirez and Soriano homered in the same game since July 29, 2009.

The Cubs are tied for fourth in the National League with 106 runs in August.

Next: After an off day Thursday, the Cubs will try to match their longest winning streak of the season when they open a three-game series in Cincinnati against the first-place Reds (73-54) on Friday (WGN, 6:10 p.m.).

The Reds, who enter Thursday's play with a 3.5-game lead over second-place St. Louis in the NL Central, have won 10 of 13 against the Cubs and have outscored the North Siders 85-43.

Tom Gorzelanny (7-7, 3.70 ERA) will oppose Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto (11-4, 3.62).

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