The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

July 5, 2014

Ruggiano homers as Cubs cool off Nationals

WASHINGTON — Jason Hammel picked up another victory for the Chicago Cubs, and that part of his Friday afternoon was very satisfying.

It was the length of his outing that frustrated the right-hander.

Hammel pitched six-plus innings and Justin Ruggiano homered for the second straight game, leading the Cubs to a 7-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Chicago was leading 4-1 when Hammel was pulled after Anthony Rendon hit his 92nd pitch for a leadoff double.

“I would have liked to have stayed out there in the seventh,” Hammel said. “I have no idea why I came out of the game. I honestly believe you learn how to pitch when you get to 100 pitches. If you’re not allowed to reach that I think that’s hurting you more than helping.”

Hammel has gone over 100 pitches in eight of his 17 starts, including his previous two outings.

“All I can say is it’s frustrating, especially when you feel good,” he said. “Quite honestly there’s no reason for me to go back out there if I’m just going to give up the runner and then (get) pulled.”

Manager Rick Renteria said of the move, “Go ahead and make a change there and not let him get into a situation.”

Neil Ramirez then struck out Ian Desmond before Wilson Ramos singled home Rendon to make it 4-2. Ramirez retired the next two batters to limit the damage.

The Cubs broke it open in the ninth when Ruggiano singled in Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro added a two-run single.

Ruggiano connected for a solo shot against Tanner Roark (7-6) in the third inning. He has seven RBIs in his past two games and is batting .444 (12-for-27) in his past seven games overall.

“Hitters go through this every now and then,” he said. “You get hot, seeing the ball well. I’ve been doing some things mechanically to stay on top of what I want to do at the plate. It’s good though, I don’t want to lose it.”

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