Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Washington Nationals a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
Denard Span legged out a double after poking one down the right field line to lead off the home eighth against Pedro Strop (1-4). Strop retired the next two batters and intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to set up a force at any base, but Zimmerman made him pay by lacing a single to left. LaRoche was tagged out trying for third to end the inning, but Span had already crossed the plate.
Tyler Clippard (6-2) escaped the eighth inning unscathed and Rafael Soriano tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to secure his 21st save of the season.
The Nats won their second straight game to take the series after dropping Friday's opener, and have now won seven of eight overall.
They moved within a half-game of first-place Atlanta in the NL East after the Braves had their nine-game winning streak snapped on Sunday.
"We have to worry about our own games. We can't do anything about what they're doing," said Nationals manager Matt Williams. "We just need to make sure we play our games until we get a chance to face them."
Washington put a run across in the first inning against Chicago starter Jake Arrieta but went silent after that until the eighth. Arrieta allowed just the one run on four hits across six innings.
Span doubled to start the frame, moved to third on Anthony Rendon's grounder and scored when Jayson Werth grounded out to third.
Arrieta has been one of the most dominant starters in the majors of late, holding opponents to one or no runs in six of his last seven outings, dropping his team-best ERA to 1.78.
Jordan Zimmermann got the better of Arrieta through six innings, though, holding Chicago scoreless on seven hits. Both starters struck out five.
"Going into it you feel like it's going to be a tight ballgame," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "They were able to score the first run and we were only able to get the one."
The Cubs tied the game in the seventh inning against Drew Storen, who loaded the bases with one away for Starlin Castro. Castro did his job, lifting a sacrifice fly to center. Jerry Blevins took over and struck out Luis Valbuena to end the inning.