The Chicago Cubs tried to make a late rally, but the Nationals held on for a 2-1 win on Monday afternoon. The win makes the Nationals 82-52 on the season, guaranteeing them a winning season, the first for the Nationals/Expos franchise since 2003. It will be the first winning season for a Washington-based club since manager Ted Williams guided the 1969 Washington Nationals to an 86-76 record, good for fourth place in the American League East behind Baltimore, Detroit, and Boston.
Adam LaRoche put Washington ahead in the bottom of the second inning when he tagged Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija for a solo home run to right field. The solo blast was LaRoche's 25th of the season.
The Nationals added on the crucial run in the bottom of the eighth on a double down the left-field line by Ryan Zimmerman. Bryce Harper used his speed to score from first on the play, giving Washington the eventual winning run.
Tyler Clippard came on to pitch the top of the ninth and got two out before a Wellington Castillo single scored Anthony Rizzo to make it 2-1 and put the pressure on. Pinch runner Tony Campana reached second on a throwing error by Clippard, but the reliever slammed the door, striking out Josh Vitter to seal the victory and pick up his 30th save of the season.
One negative of the day for the Nationals was leftfielder Michael Morse leaving the game in the fourth inning with a sore right thumb.
Game two of the series is tomorrow at Nationals Park with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET.