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 at Wrigley Field.
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 NLCS, he hit two homers in Chicago and four overall to help the Mets 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 righthander 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.
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.
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.
Manager Dusty Baker said after the game that Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez will miss their scheduled starts for the Nationals this weekend.
Baker decided to give Scherzer at least an extra day rather than have him pitch Sunday after the righthander exited Tuesday night’s game against Florida because of neck spasms.
Gonzalez won’t pitch Saturday with his wife expected to give birth to their second child within the next few days. Baker said Edwin Jackson will replace him.
For the Cubs, shortstop Addison Russell was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained right foot.
Reds 3, Cardinals 2: Joey Votto drove home a pair of runs with a double and a single, and Asher Wojciechowski (2-1) went five innings in his return to the rotation for host Cincinnati. Votto had a pair of RBI hits off Mike Leake (7-10), who fell to 0-5 in eight career starts against his former team. Billy Hamilton added a run-scoring single off Leake, who allowed eight hits in six innings.
Tigers 5, Orioles 2: Justin Upton hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to back a strong pitching performance by Justin Verlander as visiting Detroit won their fourth straight.
Jim Adduci also homered for the Tigers, who have won six of seven despite unloading three stars before the non-waiver trade deadline. Verlander (7-7) struck out 10 and gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. He’s 10-5 lifetime against Baltimore, including 8-1 at Camden Yards.
Brewers 2, Rays 0: Brandon Woodruff allowed seven hits in 6 1⁄3 innings of his major league debut and Orlando Arcia homered and scored both runs for visiting Milwaukee.
Arcia’s three hits included a triple off Rays starter Jake Faria (5-2) in the third and his 10th home run of the season in the eighth. Eric Thames followed the triple with an RBI single.
Woodruff (1-0) had been slated to make his major league debut at St. Louis on June 13 but was scratched by a tight hamstring. After a stint on the disabled list he made three Triple-A rehab starts, throwing a maximum of 69 pitches. The 24-year-old righthander walked two and struck out six, throwing 97 pitches.