Cubs fall 2-1 to the Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field
ASSOCIATED PRESS April 5, 2012 4:22PM
Actor Bill Murray throws his ceremonial first pitch ball to fans at Wrigley Field Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: April 5, 2012 4:38PM
Stephen Strasburg dominated in his first opening-day start, yet wasn’t able to come away with a win.
After Strasburg frustrated the Cubs for seven innings, Ian Desmond singled in the go-ahead run in the ninth Thursday to give the Washington Nationals a season-opening 2-1 win over Chicago.
Strasburg allowed one run and five hits, including an RBI single to Marlon Byrd in the fourth. He was pinch hit for in the eighth, when Kerry Wood forced in the tying run with three straight walks.
Washington went ahead in the ninth when Chad Tracy hit a two-out double off the right-field wall against Carlos Marmol (0-1), and Desmond followed with his third hit.
Strasburg struck out five and walked one. He reached 98 mph when he struck out Starlin Castro in the sixth.
Ryan Dempster, also making his first opening start, struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings.
Chicago started its first season since Theo Epstein was hired away from Boston in hopes of helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908.
Tyler Clippard (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth to win in relief. Brad Lidge gave up one-out triple off the right-field wall by Ian Stewart in the ninth but got the save in his Nationals debut when pinch-runner Joe Mather was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to third and Byrd ended the game by taking a called third strike.
Dempster allowed a single by Desmond on the game’s first pitch, then didn’t allow another hit until Desmond singled with one out in the eighth. Dempster left to a standing ovation after striking out Danny Espinosa, but the cheers quickly faded,
Wood came on and walked Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and then Jayson Werth on a 3-2 pitch, sending a loud groan through the ballpark.
NOTES: Noted Cubs fan Bill Murray had some fun before the game. He ran around the bases and threw the ball to Wood at home before sliding across the plate. He then bounced the ceremonial first pitch. Murray also said the Cubs would win every game before leading the seventh-inning rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” ... The Cubs held 1B Bryan LaHair out of the starting lineup because of a minor nerve issue in his back that’s been bothering him the past few days. Jeff Baker started in his place. LaHair thinks he will be available off the bench Saturday and back in the lineup on Sunday. ... Matt Garza is scheduled to start Saturday for the Cubs against Gio Gonzalez. ... Nationals RHP Chien-Ming Wang (hamstring) and RHP Drew Storen (elbow) flew to Florida on Thursday to begin rehab at the spring training complex. Storen is already throwing off of the mound and Wang is 3-4 days away, manager Davey Johnson said. He expects them to be activated by the end of April.