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WSH@CHC: Gonzalez whiffs seven, doesn't allow a run

The Cubs ousted the Nationals, 7-2, on Friday to open a rematch of last weekend's series, but the night's headline came after the action on the diamond had ended.

Jeff Samardzija was dealt in a blockbuster deal to the Oakland A's late Friday night (which neither club has confirmed), and while the Cubs scramble to fill his spot in the rotation on Saturday, Gio Gonzalez will take the mound for the Nats, who will be vying to even the series and try to get back into first place in the National League East.

The Cubs will start Carlos Villanueva, who was in the rotation earlier this year.

Villanueva was 1-3 with a 9.68 ERA in four starts. Rusin was called up April 12, and gave up three hits over five innings against the Cardinals.

Dan Straily, acquired in Friday's trade last threw on June 30 and could slide into the Sunday slot. Edwin Jackson, who last threw on July 1, could go on Sunday on regular rest, with Straily going on Monday.

Gonzalez will be making his fourth start for Washington since coming off the disabled list last month. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 14 innings.

In his last start, Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory at Wrigley Field. To prove that he is back on track, Gonzalez's fastball reached 94 miles an hour. He was on the disabled list because of left shoulder inflammation.

"From the last start to this start, it's just building confidence and velocity," Gonzalez said. "[Last Saturday], it was good to see some high numbers in the velocity -- and it shows that it's just building strength. Obviously, coming from the DL and trying to work your way back, it's going to be a process."

Cubs: Barney heating up

In the absence of Gold Glover Emilio Bonifacio, who went on the disabled list on June 13 with an oblique strain, second baseman Darwin Barney has been making the most of his opportunity in the lineup. Barney is 6-for-9 in his last two games, including a four-hit performance on Tuesday in which he was a homer shy of the cycle.

It's a nice change of pace for the 28-year-old, who hit .205 (15-for-73) and had seven doubles and four RBIs in 20 June games.

Barney has only made 48 starts this season, almost half of which came in June. Manager Rick Renteria was impressed by Barney's professionalism in the first two months, when he barely saw his name on the lineup card. He lauded Barney's work ethic, something that's starting to show with both his glove and his bat in the early days of July.

"He's bearing down. He's got good energy out there, too," Renteria said. "Even under the circumstances this year, he was ... still working hard in the field, still taking his batting practice seriously, doing a lot of things that put him in a position to give him a chance to have some success. Obviously, the circumstances now provide him [an opportunity] to be in there more consistently, which is good. And he's taken advantage of it."

Nationals: Power from the infield

Washington infielders have hit 50 homers this season, a number that ranks them second in the Majors.

Among those 50 round-trippers, 23 have come from middle infielders. Shortstop Ian Desmond has hit 16 and second baseman Danny Espinosa has hit six.

Worth noting
• Cubs lefty first baseman Anthony Rizzo owns southpaws this year. Entering Friday, he had posted a .303 average (fourth among National League left-handed hitters), with five home runs and 15 RBIs. He's shown a lot of patience, as well, as 13 of his 50 walks this season have come against left-handers.

• The Nationals have committed just three errors since June 7. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 26-game stretch is the team's best defensive streak since the team arrived in D.C. in 2005.

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