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Zimmerman, Harper Lead Nationals Past Cubs

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Ryan Zimmerman strokes an RBI double scoring Ian Desmond during the first inning of Tuesday's game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Credit: Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Ryan Zimmerman strokes an RBI double scoring Ian Desmond during the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. (Credit: Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO — Ryan Zimmerman had two hits and drove in a run, Bryce Harper also had two hits and scored a crucial ninth-inning run, and Dan Haren pitched six strong innings to help the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 4-2 Tuesday night.

Zimmerman had two doubles and could have had two more hits as he lined out to third base in the third inning to start a double play and hit a hard shot at the center fielder in the seventh.

Harper doubled leading off the ninth and scored on Ian Desmond’s RBI single to right field. Denard Span, a late-inning defensive replacement, added a run-scoring single for the Nationals’ final run.

Haren (8-11) kept the Cubs off-balance and frustrated despite not throwing a pitch faster than 89 all night. He allowed just five hits and improved to 4-2 with a 2.20 ERA in eight starts since coming off the disabled list on July 8.

Rafael Soriano gave up a leadoff homer to Donnie Murphy in the bottom of the ninth before getting the last three outs for his 32nd save in 38 chances.

Cubs starter Chris Rusin (2-3) gave up two runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings, managing to work out of jam after jam with minimal damage. However, the Cubs’ offense — which scored just 12 runs in eight home games before an 11-run outburst on Monday — went back into its Wrigley Field struggles.

The Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning as Zimmerman opened with a double, moved to third on Jayson Werth’s single and scored one out later on Tyler Moore’s run-scoring infield single.

Washington went ahead in the top of the first. Ian Desmond reached on a fielder’s chose when the Cubs failed to turn a seemingly routine double play, and then scored on Zimmerman’s double to left field.

The Cubs tied it in the bottom of the fourth on Brian Bogusevic’s first homer of the season, a two-out shot to right field that landed in the first row of the bleachers.

NOTES: Cubs SS Starlin Castro batted eighth for the first time this season. He went 0 for 4 to extend his slump to 1 for 27. … After being sent to the minors earlier in the season, Nationals reliever Drew Storen is back and throwing the ball more effectively, coming off three scoreless appearances in Atlanta during the weekend. … The four-game series continues Wednesday night with the Cubs’ RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0) taking on the Nationals’ RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0).

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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