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WSH@CHC: Sveum chats about the Cubs' loss to the Nats

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum wasn't in panic mode, even if Game 2 of the 2012 season seemed like an instant replay of Game 1.

Kerry Wood served up a solo homer to Danny Espinosa with two outs in the eighth, and pinch-hitter Chad Tracy followed with a go-ahead two-run single off Carlos Marmol to spark a five-run inning and lift the Nationals to a 7-4 victory Saturday over the Cubs.

It's not a good start when a team has more blown saves than wins.

"I think they'll be fine," said Sveum of his two late-inning relievers."They've been in these situations before. It's not a panic situation."

The Nationals trailed, 4-2, entering the eighth. Wood, who walked in the game-tying run on Thursday, threw five straight strikes to retire the first two batters. But Espinosa battled him in a 10-pitch at-bat before he connected on his homer. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche each singled to chase Wood (0-1) from the game.

"I was trying to stick with my approach after two strikes, and I fouled off tough pitches," Espinosa said. "The last pitch, I finally had a good pitch that I could handle and do something with."

Marmol, who gave up the game-winning run on Thursday in the ninth, entered to face Jayson Werth and walked him to load the bases. Tracy, part of a much stronger Nationals bench, singled to put Washington ahead, 5-4. Roger Bernadina doubled and Wilson Ramos walked before Marmol was pulled. Another run scored on an infield single off Shawn Camp. When it was over, Washington had sent 11 batters to the plate.

"You've got to give a little credit to the hitting," Sveum said. "Espinosa had one heck of an at-bat. The other day, Woody wasn't throwing strikes, and today he was throwing strikes and got two quick outs, and Espinosa put a heck of an at-bat together and hit a home run the opposite way, hit the heck out of it.

"These guys have been here before," Sveum said of Wood and Marmol. "It's just a couple bad innings so far, that's all that's happened this season."

Wood chose not to talk to the media postgame. Marmol did.

"It's been two games," said Marmol, who admitted he's having trouble gripping his slider. "You can't think about it. You have to go forward, you have to think about tomorrow."

The Cubs' bullpen has been rebuilt following the trades of Sean Marshall and Andrew Cashner, plus Jeff Samardzija's switch to the rotation. Wood and Marmol, though, haven't changed roles.

"We still put our faith and confidence in those guys," Cubs infielder Jeff Baker said. "They've done it for a long time. Hopefully, it's just two games and we get in that situation tomorrow and we can give them the ball and they can right the ship, and then this will be a memory and we'll try to get on a roll."

Last year, Matt Garza left seven games with the lead and did not factor in the decision. He was in line for the win Saturday after giving up five hits, including a two-run homer by LaRoche, and striking out five over six innings. It was an adventurous day for the right-hander, who fell off the mound twice, including a stumble in the fifth as he tried to field Craig Stammen's bunt. He also fell in the first when his cleats got caught on his shoelace.

"I told him to get football spikes on from now on," Sveum said.

His teammates may need to wear helmets in the dugout. With one on and two outs in the Nationals' fourth, LaRoche homered off Garza, hitting the ball off the right-field foul pole. Garza stormed off the field after the inning ended, screaming.

"I was mad at myself," Garza said. "I missed my spot to LaRoche, and the ball came back and he put good wood on it. I thought it would carry foul. It is what it is. Other than that, I made one mistake. It's pretty good for the first time out."

Not quite good enough, though, for Garza's standards.

"It's frustating, because I set goals for myself and I didn't reach them," Garza said. "I want to at least pitch into the seventh every time out, and take my team deep into the game, and I didn't do it. I like to start what I finish."

Sveum, still looking for his first win, promised aggressive baserunning, and the team delivered. Joe Mather was on base with one out in the first and he reached third on Starlin Castro's hit-and-run single. Castro stole second, and Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez's pitch got away from Ramos. Mather scored on the wild pitch. The Cubs had two on and two outs in the fourth before Reed Johnson tripled and scored on Mather's single to open a 4-2 lead.

"You can say Spring Training is Spring Training and doesn't count and it doesn't matter, but you see the tone that was set there," Baker said of the action on the bases. "It's been stressed from Day 1 to the last day of Spring Training -- we were stealing bases on the last day, when we were playing the Brewers' Double-A team.

"As a player you're excited, because you're not going to go out there and drop anchor and sit at first or second base and wait for a bloop or a homer," Baker said. "It's definitely fun and it's the way baseball is meant to be played."

Wood and Marmol aren't having much fun.

"They're going out there to try to help you win a ballgame, and some days you have it, and some days you don't, so you just help them and keep plugging away," Garza said. "Those two guys, they're mentally tough. I have a great feeling they'll be all right." Comments