Skip to content
Just like old times for Cubs, Ramirez
Asked before Friday night's game at RFK Stadium why he suddenly sustained back spasms this week for the first time in his career, Aramis Ramirez had a ready answer.
"I guess I'm getting old," he said with a smile.
Bad back or not, Ramirez's eighth-inning home run launched the Cubs to a 6-3 victory over the Washington Nationals and helped them to three straight victories for the first time this season.
After LaTroy Hawkins blew his fourth save in the sixth, the Cubs scored four runs in the eighth to make a winner out of Will Ohman for the first time since Sept. 22, 2000.
Washington threatened in the ninth off Mike Remlinger, scoring a run and loading the bases with two outs.
But Todd Wellemeyer came in to record the final out, posting his first save since getting one in a 17-inning victory over Milwaukee in his major-league debut almost two years ago.
"It's a little better than waiting until the 17th (inning)," Wellemeyer said.
Manager Dusty Baker has an inexperienced bullpen, as he's mentioned often.
But in the last four games, Wellemeyer, Ohman, Michael Wuertz and Cliff Bartosh have combined for 81/3 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits in that span.
On Friday the kids came through when Baker needed them most.
The crazy eighth began with Ramirez smoking a center-field homer off Nationals reliever Luis Ayala that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
After Jeromy Burnitz doubled and was bunted to third, Jason Dubois was hit by a pitch and Chad Cordero came in to face Jerry Hairston.
Hairston missed a sign on a squeeze play, leaving Burnitz dead in his tracks about 20 feet down the third base line. Burnitz burst for the plate after the throw to third and just when it looked like a bad play had killed a scoring opportunity, Nationals catcher Gary Bennett droppeda throw to the plate from third baseman Vinny Castilla that allowed Burnitz to score.
"I started to take [the squeeze sign] off, but I said, 'No, we need this run,' and Jerry hadn't been going that good," Baker said. "Fortunately for us we didn't get caught like they did" on a failed suicide squeeze in the second.
Corey Patterson then reached on an infield hit as Cordero scooped the ball over the head of first baseman Nick Johnson and into foul territory down the right-field line to allow two more runs to score.
Glendon Rusch pitched well in his second start and carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth before running out of steam.
After Jose Guillen's leadoff single, Rusch issued a walk to Castilla and received a visit to the mound from Baker.
Rusch had thrown a season-high 90 pitches and, after hedging with Baker, conceded he was gassed.
"Better to be honest than to be a hero," Rusch said.
Enter Hawkins, who discovered the sixth inning is no different than the eighth or ninth. Jeffrey Hammonds rifled a single to right on Hawkins' second pitch that tied the game 2-2.
After loading the bases with a one-out walk, Hawkins got a pitcher-to-catcher-to-first double play to get out of the inning. Opposing hitters are 7-for-16 against Hawkins in May, a .438 average, and he has blown four saves in eight opportunities this year.
Ohman threw a scoreless seventh inning to earn his first major-league victory in 4½ years.
"Tomorrow I'll fade back into the woodwork," Ohman said.