CHICAGO — Postseason or regular season, Daniel Murphy keeps crushing the ball at Wrigley Field.
Murphy hit two home runs to back Tanner Roark, and the Washington Nationals won the opener of a series between division leaders by beating the Chicago Cubs 4-2 on a chilly Friday afternoon.
With the game-time temperature at 63, Murphy hit a two-run homer in the first and connected off Kyle Hendricks leading off the sixth for a 3-0 lead.
“We started this series off the right way and, hopefully, gave ourselves a chance to win the series tomorrow,” he said. “We’re really excited about coming in and seeing if we can win a series. That’s what it’s all about this time of year.
Counting the postseason, Murphy is 20 for 38 with four home runs in his last 10 games at Wrigley. With the Mets in the 2015 NL Championship Series, he hit two homers in Chicago and four overall to help New York sweep.
Roark (9-7) didn’t allow a run until Javier Baez chased him with a two-run homer with one out in the seventh. The right-hander allowed five hits while improving to 3-1 in his past four starts.
Hendricks (4-4) gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings in his longest outing since May 24. Baseball’s ERA leader last season, he missed about seven weeks because of tendinitis in his right hand before returning on July 24.
“Pitch efficiency is much better,” Hendricks after his third start back. “It clicked right there about the fourth inning. I started getting some quicker outs, quicker innings. When you get through seven, it felt real good.”
Chicago has lost three straight after winning 14 of 17 following the All-Star break. After giving up three homers to Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt on Thursday, the Cubs got pounded by Murphy this time.
He hit a two-run shot halfway up the bleachers in right-center in the first and went the opposite way in the sixth, driving his 19th home run to left-center. That gave him two multi-homer games this season and five in his career.
After Baez cut the lead to one in the seventh with his 15th home run, Brian Kintzler got the final two outs of the inning.
Anthony Rendon hit a sacrifice fly against Carl Edwards Jr. in the eighth.
Ryan Madson worked the bottom half, and Sean Doolittle finished for his fifth save in as many chances since he was acquired from Oakland on July 16. He gave up a leadoff single to Jason Heyward before striking out Baez and getting Ian Happ to ground into a double play.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon would like to see more night games at Wrigley and day baseball mostly limited to Saturdays and Sundays.
“This constantly having to rush to the ballpark and not having the normal method during the course of the day, it does matter because then you go on the road, it’s entirely different,” he said.
The Cubs didn’t add lights to Wrigley until 1988. They are allowed to play 43 night games and would like to get that number up to 54.
Maddon dismissed the idea that the Cubs have an advantage over a visiting team that mostly plays at night.
“I think 107 years indicates it wasn’t such a good idea,” he said.
The Cubs won the World Series last fall for the first time since 1908.
Nationals: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez will miss their scheduled starts this weekend. Manager Dusty Baker decided to give Scherzer at least an extra day rather than have him pitch Sunday after the right-hander exited Tuesday’s game against Florida because of neck spasms. Gonzalez won’t pitch Saturday with his wife expects to give birth to their second child within the next few days. … Baker said RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) is getting better, but Baker did not say when he will make his next start. … The Nationals placed LHP Enny Romero on the 10-day DL on Friday because of forearm tightness.
Cubs: SS Addison Russell was placed on the 10-day DL on Friday because of a strained right foot. The Cubs recalled LHP Rob Zastryzny from Triple-A Iowa.
Cubs RHP John Lackey (8-9, 4.87 ERA) looks to improve to 4-0 since the All-Star break when he starts Saturday, while RHP Edwin Jackson (2-1, 2.84) gets the ball for Washington in Gonzalez’s place.
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