Cubs 9, Nationals 1

There were two baseballs in the wooden tray that sits on the

desk in the visiting manager’s office at Nationals Park. One was

the last ball thrown in the game, a swinging strikeout that

finished off an eight-run victory. The other was a game ball saved

by the home plate umpire.

They were souvenirs from Mike Quade’s first game as a major

league manager, the Chicago Cubs’ 9-1 victory over the Washington

Nationals on Monday night.

”What do you do with all those baseballs? Throw BP with them? I

don’t know,” he said, joking. ”I’m not real nostalgic about that,

but it’s cool. It’s kind of a neat thing, obviously.”

The post-Piniella Cubs are off to quite a start. Not only did

Quade, the interim skipper, win his first game following the sudden

resignation of Lou Piniella on Sunday, but so did Casey Coleman.

The rookie right-hander took a one-hitter into the seventh inning,

and the Cubs had 15 hits to open a six-game road trip.

”I just want to go to sleep now,” Quade said. ”But those guys

made it easy for me. It was a stress-free night and fun to

watch.”

Quade was promoted from third base coach after Piniella’s

resignation and considers the rest of the season an audition for

the permanent job. He inherited a club that started the day 23

games below .500 and that had lost six of its previous seven, but

his debut produced Chicago’s first comfortable victory in nearly

three weeks.

Coleman helped make the manager’s job much easier. Making his

second start and sixth major league appearance, he allowed one run

and three hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

Coleman (1-1) faced only three batters above the minimum until

the seventh, when he gave up consecutive hits followed by Ivan

Rodridguez’s RBI groundout. Coleman even collected his first major

league hit, a single punched through a drawn-in infield in the

fifth that also produced his first RBI.

”I knew that the attention was on the Cubs now, with Lou

deciding to retire,” Coleman said. ”It’s been a disappointing

season for a lot of guys, and I just wanted to come up here,

especially tonight after something’s changed – some of us see it as

a new start – and you just want to go out and throw strikes and

help the team win. And hopefully we can finish the year

strong.”

The Cubs scored five runs in the third inning and two more in

the fifth against Livan Hernandez (8-9), who was left to toil for

121 pitches until he was finally removed with one out in the fifth.

The third inning included a leadoff home run by Blake DeWitt, two

hit batters, one walk, a two-run single by Tyler Colvin and a

two-run bloop triple by Alfonso Soriano that landed just inside the

line and barely out of reach of sprawled outfielder Willie

Harris.

Chicago had eight players get at least one hit – DeWitt and

Xavier Nady led the way with three each. Andrew Cashner and Thomas

Diamond pitched 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cubs, who

hadn’t won a game by more than two runs since a 15-4 rout of

Milwaukee on Aug. 4.

Meanwhile, manager Jim Riggleman came up a different sort of

explanation for the Nationals’ lackluster performance: He said the

game’s slow pace created a bad ”aura” and sucked the life out of

the game.

”I talked to the ballclub after the game and let them know that

they have to play with more energy,” Riggleman said. ”You have to

find a way. Tonight I felt like we allowed the game situation to

have an aura hanging over us that it’s just not happening for us

tonight. It’s going to happen a time or two a year, and when it

does, it gets addressed.”

The day was already a long one for a Nationals team that was

coming off two shutout losses in a three-game series with

Philadelphia. Before Monday’s game, the team announced that rookie

ace Stephen Strasburg will be placed on the 15-day disabled list

and will undergo a second MRI on a strained tendon in his right

forearm.

”Even though it’s snowballing, we can’t let the snowball get

bigger,” outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. ”We know the talent that’s

in here, and that we have the capability to play against any team.

Basically, we have to show some more effort. We got embarrassed

tonight. Even though we got stomped tonight, we have to show the

effort.”

Notes: Cubs CF Marlon Byrd was hit on the right wrist by

Hernandez in the third inning. He stayed in the game to run the

bases but was removed in the bottom of the inning. X-rays were

negative, and Byrd is day to day with a bruise. … In a pregame

ceremony, the Nationals unveiled a plaque featuring Piniella on a

Washington Senators rookie baseball card from 1964. The Senators

drafted Piniella in 1962, but he never played for the franchise.

The plaque will be given to Piniella. … The Nationals announced

they are renewing their affiliation with the Double-A Harrisburg

Senators for two more years.