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08/11/2011 7:16 PM EDT
Ramirez and Pena homer in Cubs' 4-3 win over Nats
CHICAGO CUBS 4, WASHINGTON 3

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs keep hitting home runs.



Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena went back to back on Thursday to
help the Cubs rally past the Washington Nationals 4-3 Thursday.



Ramirez's two-run shot in the seventh was his 21st of the
season, and gave him 16 homers since June 25, the most in the
major leagues since then.



"However we can score," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "The guys
are hitting the ball out of the ballpark and that's a good
thing."



Pena followed Ramirez with a clout that curled around the pole
in right field and landed on Sheffield Avenue and put the cubs
up 4-1.



"You like to be able to create any way you can, but the longball
is still a part of it," Quade said.



Ryan Dempster (10-8) limited Washington to a first-inning home
run by Ryan Zimmerman and went seven innings, allowing three
hits, walking two and striking out six.



Washington loaded the bases and scored a run in the ninth
against Carlos Marmol, but he recovered to get his 26th save.



Wilson Ramos hit a high chopper off Marmol that he beat out for
an infield single, scoring Jonny Gomes. But Marmol struck out
Brian Bixler and got Rick Ankiel on a fly ball to the wall in
center to end the game.



"Marm gutted it out," Quade said. "That was something. I'm out
of breath."



Marmol has converted seven straight saves since returning to the
closer's role on July 31. He was pitching for the third straight
day, too.



"When you ask a guy to come out for a third day, you're always
worried," Quade said. "He's done it before. He just wasn't as
sharp command-wise.



"He could have collapsed at any time there and didn't. Got back
in the strike zone when he needed to. Just a gutsy performance
on a day when he didn't have his (best) stuff."



Washington also scored a run in the eighth, when pinch-hitter
Bixler hit an infield single. Ankiel followed with a single, but
Cubs reliever Kerry Wood struck out Danny Espinosa and
Zimmerman.



Wood has struck out the last eight batters he's faced, tying the
Cubs' record for all pitchers since the mounds were lowered in
1969.



Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann (7-10) allowed four runs
and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out
seven.



The Cubs have won nine of their last 11 games and got their
third straight series win at home, something they hadn't done
since 2009.



"It was a fun day for us," Dempster said. "It was a good way to
end a homestand."



Zimmermann held the Cubs to one run on six hits through six
innings but ran into trouble after striking out the first two
batters of the seventh. Johnson laced his third single of the
game into left field. Ramirez followed with a shot into the
left-field bleachers, putting the Cubs up 3-1 before Pena's
homer chased Zimmermann.



"Threw a halfway decent slider to Ramirez but he was sitting on
it and it doesn't take much to hit it out of here," Zimmermann
said. "He got the bat on it, got it up and it was a home run.



"And then the pitch to Pena was the first changeup of the day
and probably the worst choice I made all day. I don't really
know why I threw it."



Dempster won his third straight start and reached 10 wins for
fourth straight season. He's won 10 or more seven times in
career. Only Fergie Jenkins (15) and Reggie Cleveland (8) have
more 10-win seasons among Canadian-born pitchers.



Alfonso Soriano hit an RBI triple and Reed Johnson added three
singles for Chicago. Johnson went 7 for 8 at the plate over the
last two games of the series.



Zimmerman opened the scoring in the first when he homered onto
Waveland Avenue beyond the left-field bleachers to extend his
hitting streak to 19 games, the second-longest active streak in
the big leagues behind the 31-game streak of Atlanta's Dan
Uggla.



Chicago tied it in the fourth on Soriano's RBI triple. Right
fielder Jayson Werth dove for the ball but it clipped the end of
this glove and rolled to the wall. Byrd scored and Soriano wound
up at third with his first triple since Aug. 23 of last season.



Zimmermann reached 145 innings for the season, leaving him two
or three starts left before he reaches his limit of 160 for the
season. He had Tommy John surgery nearly two years ago.



NOTES: Washington's Michael Morse had to leave the game after
being hit on the elbow by a pitch. He went to the hospital and
manager Davey Johnson said he wasn't sure if Morse would be able
to make the team's flight to Philadelphia, where the Nationals
begin a three-game series on Friday. "We've got to keep our
fingers crossed," Johnson said. "Yeah, I'm worried because he's
got huge arms and that'll protect it, but he's in bad shape."...
After the game, the Cubs' ground crew began resodding sections
of the Wrigley Field turf that were damaged during a pair of
recent concerts given at the ballpark by former Beatle Paul
McCartney. Byrd recently complained about the surface after a
game in which he lost his footing... Cubs starter Andrew Cashner
completed a bullpen session before Thursday's game with no
problems, the latest step in his recovery from a strained right
rotator cuff. The Cubs travel to Atlanta for a three-game
weekend series against the Braves, the first leg of a six-game
road trip that will also stop in Houston. Carlos Zambrano is set
to face Atlanta's Mike Minor on Friday. Zambrano has hit 23
career HRs. He tied Walter Johnson for ninth among pitchers with
his homer off Johnny Cueto on Aug. 6. Zambrano is 0-4 with a
6.24 ERA in last 10 starts against Atlanta since July 13, 2003.
. The Nationals' Livan Hernandez will start the opener for
Washington against Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.

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