CHICAGO – A small group of people started to assemble outside the visitors' clubhouse in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field.
When Chicago's Alfonso Soriano popped out to center field to end the game, the crowd — now upward of 75 people — erupted.
Desperate to get a peek of the Washington Nationals as they climbed the stairs to the clubhouse, the crowd spotted Chien-Ming Wang and began chanting his name.
Wang allowed one hit over six scoreless innings, Jonny Gomes hit a two-run homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Cubs 3-1 on Tuesday night.
In his third start — and first on the road — after missing more than two years following shoulder surgery, Wang (1-2) won for the first time since June 28, 2009, against the New York Mets as a member of the Yankees.
"I told you I expected him to be better than he was the second time," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, grinning.
Wang didn't allow a hit until pinch-hitter Tony Campana, who initially tried to lay down a bunt, led off the sixth with a hard liner off Morse's mitt at first. Campana beat out second baseman's Danny Espinosa's throw at first with Wang covering.
After Campana stole second, Wang quickly regrouped. He retired Castro and Darwin Barney on fly outs then ended his outing by getting Blake Dewitt to ground out to second on his 81st pitch.
"I was impressed the first time because I didn't think I'd see him with that free of a delivery and be able to hang in there for as long as he did. It was better the second time and I expected the progress to be better this time," Johnson said. "It was very impressive. Eighty pitches for six innings? That's vintage."
Wang's performance certainly brought back memories of his 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Yankees when he went 19-6 and 19-7, respectively.
Wang effectively used his sinker, while issuing two walks and hitting a batter with one strikeout.
"The last two outings, my sinker wasn't that good, so the ball wasn't getting down. That's why they got me," Wang said through an interpreter. "In the bullpen session, I was working on the release point. I think that's why I had a good outing today."
In his last start, Wang gave up six runs, two earned, in five innings against the Braves, but Johnson was encouraged. In his season debut Wang was tagged for four runs in four innings against the Mets on the two-year anniversary of his shoulder surgery.
"I'm really happy because (the fans) have been supporting me during these two years even though I wasn't pitching," Wang said, recognizing his fan club anxiously waiting below.
Michael Morse added a long home run and Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 17 games for the Nationals, who have won three of four.
The Cubs have lost consecutive games after winning a season-high seven straight.
Starlin Castro scored the lone run on his sixth home run in the eighth. Castro has homered in consecutive games and it was his 10th straight game with a run scored.
Nationals closer Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 30th save in 34 opportunities.
After striking out eight batters in the first five innings, Cubs starter Matt Garza (5-9) was tagged for two home runs in the sixth. He allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He finished with nine strikeouts and two walks.
With one out in the sixth, Morse hit a tape-measure shot off Garza to give the Nationals the lead. The ball cleared the batter's eye in center for Morse's 20th of the season.
After a single by Jayson Werth, Gomes hit a two-run homer into the bleachers in left to give Washington a 3-0 lead. It was Gomes' second homer since being acquired from the Reds in a trade on July 26 and 13th this season.
"(Morse) sat on it and he hit a long way and Gomes, I just hung one," Garza said. "That's what usually happens when you hang a slider in this league."
NOTES: Cubs RHP Rodrigo Lopez, who is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Nationals, is 1-3 lifetime against Washington with a 4.62 ERA. ... LHP Ross Detwiler is Wednesday's scheduled starter for the Nationals. The 25-year old lefty is winless on the road in nine career starts. The former first-round draft pick is 0-7 lifetime away from home. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was a late scratch because of lower back spasms.