CHICAGO – Brian Schneider hit a solo homer in the 12th inning, and the Washington Nationals overcame Chad Cordero’s first blown save in more than two months to complete a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs with a 5-4 victory Sunday.

The Nationals have won six straight to reach 50 wins faster than any season in franchise history. It was the first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field for the club since the Montreal Expos did it June 3-5, 1994.

Brad Wilkerson hit a two-run double in the 11th inning, and after the Cubs tied it again, Schneider hit his sixth homer with two outs in the 12th off Cubs reliever Sergio Mitre (2-4).

Washington led 2-0 in the ninth before Aramis Ramirez hit his 18th homer, a two-run shot off Cordero that ended the closer’s streak of 26 consecutive saves. It was Cordero’s first blown save since April 21 at Atlanta, and third of the season.

The Cubs have lost four straight games.

Carlos Baerga singled off Glendon Rusch to open the 11th. Schneider followed with what appeared to be a double-play grounder to second baseman Todd Walker, but Walker threw the ball out of the reach of shortstop Neifi Perez, putting Baerga and Schneider on second.

After a botched squeeze attempt with two strikes by Jamey Carroll, Rusch walked pinch-hitter Wil Cordero to load the bases with one out. Wilkerson followed with a two-run double on a 3-1 count to deep center, giving the Nationals a 4-2 lead.

Jerry Hairston led off the bottom of the 11th with a homer off Hector Carrasco. Carrasco then got two consecutive outs, but allowed back-to-back singles to Jeromy Burnitz and Ramirez to put runners at the corners.

Joey Eischen (2-0) came in and allowed a broken-bat double to Todd Hollandsworth, scoring Burnitz to tie the game at 4. Eischen also pitched the 12th for his first win since returning from a broken right wrist that landed him on the 60-day disabled list.

Major League batting leader Derrek Lee’s only hit was a lined single off of Nationals starter Ryan Drese’s right foot in the seventh. Drese met with trainers but stayed in the game for the rest of the inning before Luis Ayala replaced him to start the eighth.

Drese pitched seven scoreless innings, only allowing four hits.

Claimed off waivers from Texas on June 10, Drese allowed a leadoff single to Jerry Hairston in the first inning and then retired 13 straight. Drese struck out one and walked none while throwing only 89 pitches in seven innings.

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and six hits. He struck out seven and walked three.

Notes: The Cubs honored soccer star Mia Hamm before the game. Hamm threw out the ceremonial first pitch to her husband, Nomar Garciaparra. Garciaparra is on the 60-day disabled list while recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his left groin. Hamm also was the guest singer for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” … Hairston played in place of Corey Patterson in center. Patterson is in a 2-for-20 slump and Cubs manager Dusty Baker indicated that he will probably give Patterson another day off on Monday at Atlanta. … The Nationals placed Nick Johnson on the 15-day disabled list after the game and promoted Matt Cepicky from Triple-A New Orleans.

AP-ES-07-03-05 1824EDT


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