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Scouts watch as Soriano, Hernandez lead Nationals past Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano collected four extra-base hits
to raise his average to .467 since the All-Star break, then
repeated a phrase he's been using a lot lately: "I want to stay
here."

Livan Hernandez threw six solid innings, his fastball reaching
the high 80s, then uttered that exact same four-word phrase over
and over.

If, as the rumor mill would have it, Soriano and Hernandez are
on their way out of town, they're still helping Washington right
now, and the pair led the Nationals to a 7-3 victory over the
Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

"I don't want to get traded," said Hernandez (7-8), who earned
his first win in nearly a month. "This is my team."

With other clubs' scouts in town ahead of the July 31 trading
deadline, Soriano hit three doubles and a triple, drove in one run
and scored two.

"That's my first choice: I want to stay here," Soriano said.
"But like I said ... I have no control."

Hernandez gave up seven hits and three runs for his fourth
quality start in his last five outings.

"You know when you feel good. Today was one of those days,"
said Hernandez, hampered by knee and back problems earlier this
season.

The Nationals got key contributions from up and down the roster
in earning their first two-game winning streak since taking four in
a row against Tampa Bay and Florida from July 1-4.

Rookie Ryan Zimmerman delivered the go-ahead hit, a two-run
double in the fifth off reliever Scott Williamson (2-3) to put
Washington up 4-3. Pinch-hitter Alex Escobar added a two-run homer
off Will Ohman in the sixth, rounding the bases with a hitch in his
step after hurting his right hamstring Friday. And Austin Kearns
hit his first homer for Washington since arriving from Cincinnati
on July 13.

Hernandez earned the first win for a Nationals starter since
July 3: The 13-game drought was the franchise's longest since the
Expos went 14 games without a win from a starter in August 2000.

With the game-time temperature 92 degrees, Hernandez threw 106
pitches, and would like to have two back: The breaking balls that
Aramis Ramirez turned into solo shots in the first and fifth
innings, giving the third baseman two consecutive two-homer games.

"You hang the ball," Hernandez said, "he's going to get
you."

Ramirez has five homers in his last three games and 21 this
season, the fourth year in a row he's topped 20.

"As a team, we didn't get it done," Ramirez said. "Everybody
has to do their part. You can see that the last couple of days -- we
hit, but we still lose."

After allowing two runs in the first, Hernandez retired eight of
nine batters. But in the fifth, with the score 2-2, Ramirez drove a
77 mph pitch over the wall to put Chicago ahead.

Hernandez and three relievers then shut out Chicago the rest of
the way.

"Livan, he made some adjustments after the first inning, and he
settled down," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Our offense today
was basically Aramis. It was a tough day."

For the second game in a row, a Cubs pitcher left injured. On
Friday, Scott Eyre departed with a tight hamstring, and Washington
turned a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 victory, capped by a two-run hit
from Escobar, who was injured running to first.

This time, Cubs starter Sean Marshall allowed two runs on six
hits through four innings, but exited with a strained left side
muscle after one pitch in the fifth, and Baker said he might have
to go on the disabled list.

Williamson got two outs before Soriano doubled. After Felipe
Lopez walked, Zimmerman's double put Washington ahead.

That was a relief to Zimmerman, who hit into two odd double
plays: a 1-4-2 in the first and a 9-2 in the third, with Soriano
out at the plate both times. Nationals baserunners were thrown out
in each of the first four innings.

"Just because you run on a play that you may not run on, that
doesn't mean you're being aggressive," Washington manager Frank
Robinson said. "That means you're being stupid."

Game notes
Actor Tom Hanks was at the stadium and chatted with
Robinson before the game. ... For Ramirez, Friday and Saturday
represent the first time he's had consecutive multihomer games; he
has three this season and 13 in his career. ... Soriano has hit
safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .417 (25-for-60).