Cubs rally from 4-run deficit, beat struggling Nats

Cubs 6, Nationals 4

CHICAGO (AP) -- Alfonso Soriano is finally warming up. Derrek Lee has been hitting well all season. And now the Chicago Cubs are playing the kind of baseball they envisioned when they left spring training.

"We started to play good this month. We had trouble pulling everything together in April, but I think now everything is in the right way," Soriano said Friday after he and Lee helped the Cubs rally from a 4-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 6-4.

After a sluggish first month, the Cubs have won six of seven.

Playing for the first time against the team for which he hit 46 homers and stole 41 bases last season, Soriano tied the game with a two-out RBI double in the fourth inning. He scored Chicago's go-ahead run on Cliff Floyd's single.

"I had a good time with those guys when I played for Washington," said Soriano, who got together with some of his ex-teammates. "We talked last night. I went to the hotel and we went to dinner. We had a good time."

In the third, Soriano started a three-run rally by beating out an infield single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

One out later, Lee followed with a two-out, two-run homer. It was Lee's second homer of the season. He leads the majors with a .422 average, has reached base in all 27 games this season and has hit in 12 straight.

"I think it is important to get off to a good start. Otherwise, you're fighting uphill the rest of the way," said Lee, the 2005 NL batting champion who missed most of last season with a wrist injury. "If you get off to a good start, it gives you some slack if you tail off. ... I guess I'm doing my job. We're not worried about streaks in here, just trying to win."

Aramis Ramirez followed Lee's homer with a double and scored when Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman threw high for an error on Michael Barrett's grounder. Ramirez hesitated around third before running into third base coach Mike Quade, knocking him down and then scoring to cut the lead to 4-3. Ramirez was not injured seriously, although his chest was a bit sore. He and Quade were looking at the play and not each other.

"I was watching what was going on. We both were watching what was going on. That was the problem," Ramirez said.

Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano (3-2) gave up a three-run homer to Austin Kearns in a four-run first inning and lasted six innings, giving up six hits and four runs.

Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth for his sixth save in as many chances.

Nationals starter Jason Bergmann (0-3) allowed eight hits and five runs -- four earned -- in six innings and is still looking for his victory since Sept. 15, 2005. Washington has lost five of six.

"We blew a 4-0 lead," Bergmann said. "They've got some good hitters. Not a lot of weaknesses. You can't leave pitches up."

Washington set an NL record by playing 22 games at the start of a season without scoring a first-inning run but had no trouble in the opening inning Friday.

Felipe Lopez led off with a triple and scored on Ronnie Belliard's grounder. After Zambrano walked Zimmerman, Ryan Church doubled before Kearns delivered a drive into deep left center for his third homer of the season.

The Nats loaded the bases on a double and two walks in the seventh.

Bob Howry, the Cubs' fourth reliever of the inning, got out of the predicament by getting Kearns to ground to short.

"There is a lot of teaching to do around here and we're willing to do it," said first-year Nationals manager Manny Acta. "We just haven't learned yet how to put away pitchers or put away teams."

Game notes
John Patterson, who is scheduled to start Saturday's game for Washington, was hit in the left cheek by a ball while standing in the outfield during batting practice Friday. A precautionary CT scan was negative and Patterson is still a go for Saturday. ... Outfielder Ryan Langerhans suited up for the Nationals on Friday after being traded twice in the same week. He was obtained by the Oakland Athletics from Atlanta on Sunday and then dealt to the Nationals on Wednesday. "It's been different," Langerhans said Friday as he left the clubhouse for his first batting practice with Washington. "I've been trying to find sleep with all the travel." Langerhans entered the game in a double switch in the eighth inning Friday. He grounded out to second in the ninth. ... Cubs radio broadcaster Ron Santo returned to the booth for the first time since April 21 when he was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat. He led the singing during Friday's seventh-inning stretch.