Nationals spoil Wood’s return

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CHICAGO – The Washington Nationals gave Kerry Wood a rude welcome on his return to the mound for the Chicago Cubs.

Ryan Zimmerman, Damian Jackson and Alfonso Soriano homered off Wood (0-1), helping Ramon Ortiz get his first win since last September and sending the Nationals to a 5-3 victory over the Cubs.

Making his first start since last July 20 and first appearance since a relief outing Aug. 29 before season-ending shoulder surgery, Wood lasted five innings in his latest comeback on a chilly 53-degree day at Wrigley Field.

He struck out two of the first three batters in an eight-pitch first inning, but then gave up the long ball to the struggling Nationals, who had been shut out in the first two games of the series.

Wood went five innings, giving up five hits, four runs with no walks and six strikeouts during a 71-pitch outing.

Zimmerman’s seventh homer, a drive to left in the second off an 86 mph Wood pitch, ended the Nationals’ scoreless streak at 22 innings.

One out after a bloop single by Marlon Byrd, Jackson homered to left – just his second of the season – and Wood was in a 3-0 hole. Soriano hit his 13th homer leading off the third.

Ortiz (1-4), winless in his first seven starts this season, got his first victory since last Sept. 10 against the Pirates. He yielded eight hits and three runs in 5 1-3 innings. Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his fourth save in six chances.

Washington took a 5-0 lead when Marlon Anderson hit his first homer of the season, a solo shot off Chicago reliever Will Ohman in the sixth.

But the Cubs rallied for three in the sixth and drove Ortiz out.

Michael Barrett, Jacque Jones and Neifi Perez hit consecutive singles for the first run. Another single by John Mabry loaded the bases before Ronny Cedeno’s sacrifice fly made it 5-2 and finished Ortiz. Pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez greeted reliever Jon Rauch with an RBI single and the lead was down to two before Mike Stanton got Juan Pierre to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Wood was the 1998 Rookie of the Year and struck out 20 Houston Astros in his fifth major league start. But he missed the entire 1999 season after elbow ligament replacement surgery and has been on the disabled list nine times in his major league career, including three times last season.

Wood’s rehab was pushed back after minor knee surgery in early March. He made two minor league rehab starts and threw 85 pitches in five innings for Triple-A Iowa on May 12.

Notes: Washington’s win came on the same day baseball owners unanimously approved the $450 million sale of the team to Theodore Lerner and Stan Kasten. … Nationals OF Jose Guillen, who had to leave Wednesday night’s game prior to the bottom of the fourth with a strained left hamstring, didn’t play. The Nationals’ lineup was without four regulars Thursday, two of them injured and two others getting the day off. …Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, forced out of Wednesday night’s game with a sore back, was also out of the lineup, before his pinch-hit single in the sixth. … Nationals manager Frank Robinson had trouble putting on a jacket in his office before the game because of a sore back but was on the bench. He hurt his back before Wednesday night’s game but after an anti-inflammatory injection was able to manage. Robinson said before Thursday’s game he did not get another injection but did receive some treatment.

AP-ES-05-18-06 1725EDT

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