WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper sat out after a procedure to fix an ingrown toenail. Jayson Werth has been sidelined for a week with a bad hamstring and the plan is to put him on the disabled list.
So what if two of Washington's best hitters watched from the dugout Friday night? With extra-base hits coming from lower in the order, the Nationals extended their season-high winning streak to five games.
Ian Desmond's three hits included a two-run homer and an RBI double, and Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki each drove in a pair of runs with a double, helping Washington beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 for its seventh victory in the past eight games.
"When your 3-hole hitter's out of there," Washington manager Davey Johnson said, referring to Harper, "and you score a bunch of runs, that's big."
Desmond was reminded of the manner in which the Nationals compiled a majors-best 98 wins in 2012 despite a series of injuries to everyday players.
"Last year, we were missing guys throughout the whole season, pretty much," said Desmond, who singled and scored in the second, homered in the fourth and doubled in the fifth. "We just found a way."
Ross Detwiler (2-3) gave up two runs in 6 2-3 innings, and Craig Stammen got the last seven outs.
"He wasn't real happy when I hooked him," Johnson said about Detwiler. "That's good. I like that."
Chicago's Jeff Samardzija (1-5) lost his fifth decision in a row by allowing seven runs – five earned – and eight hits. He threw 73 pitches in his five innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.
Samardzija said he was not bothered by a cut on his right index finger from a start April 24.
"Felt good. Felt about as best as I could all year," the right-hander said. "That's the frustrating part of it, when you've got your pitches and you feel good and you get that outcome."
Making his first start in the leadoff slot this season, Chicago's Starlin Castro delivered doubles in each of his first two at-bats, including to begin the game. He made it 1-0 in the first on Anthony Rizzo's groundout.
Suzuki's two-run double off the wall in right-center put Washington ahead 2-1 in the second.
"I never complain about getting hits. My defense is my priority, but it definitely feels good," said Suzuki, a catcher. "Being in the bottom of the lineup, when guys are out there, you just want to drive them in."
One of the runners who scored reached on an infield single, while the other got aboard when Samardzija failed in two attempts to start a double play by fielding the ball with his pitching hand and was charged with an error – making both runs unearned.
"That was kind of the big mess," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We've got to field a ground ball back to us. We seem to make a mistake, and we can't make a pitch after that."
Chicago tied it in the third when Samardzija and Castro hit consecutive doubles. Castro later was thrown out at home when trying to score on Rizzo's single. Right fielder Roger Bernadina, starting because Harper and Werth were out, got his second assist of the season with his throw, and Suzuki dived to tag Castro.
Desmond put Washington back out front with his fifth homer, driving an 0-1 pitch barely over the wall in left to make it 4-2. Soon as the bat made contact with the ball, Samardzija spun around and yelled.
Didn't get much better in the fifth, when the Nationals tacked on three more runs on consecutive doubles by Desmond and Espinosa.
"They're due," Johnson said, "to start doing their thing."
NOTES: Samardzija's lone win came on opening day against Pittsburgh. ... Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Werth has a "very slight strain" of his hamstring and the move to the DL would be backdated to May 2. Rizzo expects Werth to be able to return the first day he's eligible, May 18. Johnson indicated Eury Perez will be called up from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Harper tweeted a photo of his bloody right big toe. Rizzo and Johnson both said they expect Harper to be available Saturday. ... The Cubs activated RHP Kyuji Fujikawa from the DL and optioned RHP Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa. Fujikawa, out since April 13 with a straight right forearm, pitched a scoreless seventh inning Friday. ... On Saturday, Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45 ERA) will face Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39). Jackson was with Washington last season, then signed a $52 million, four-year deal with the Cubs as a free agent. "Been a slow start to say the least. Not exactly how I had it envisioned," Jackson said.
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