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Associated Press
Washington’s Adam LaRoche hits a two-run home run during the fourth inning of the Nationals’ win Saturday in Chicago.

Cubs’ late lead lost again by ’pen

– Carlos Marmol insists it’s too soon for him to be frustrated. Cubs fans sure are, though.

Adam LaRoche homered and matched a career-high with four hits, and the Washington Nationals again rallied late against Kerry Wood and Marmol, scoring five runs in the eighth to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-4 on Saturday.

“It’s been two games,” Marmol said. “You can’t be frustrated.”

Tell that to the crowd, though. They weren’t holding back after Wood and then Marmol gave one away again.

The Cubs wasted a strong start by Matt Garza after Ryan Dempster shut down Washington in the opener, and in both losses, Wood and Marmol were miserable.

This time, Chicago answered LaRoche’s two-run homer in the fourth by scoring three in the bottom half to take a 4-2 lead while knocking out Gio Gonzalez, but the bullpen again gave it away.

Washington sent up 11 batters in the eighth and hammered Wood (0-1) and Marmol again after they faltered in a 2-1 loss on Thursday.

Danny Espinosa started the winning rally with a two-out solo homer to left in the eighth on the 10th pitch he saw from Wood, who walked three straight to force in the tying run in the opener.

Marmol came on after back-to-back singles by Ryan Zimmerman and LaRoche but fared no better after taking the loss on Thursday. He immediately walked Jayson Werth to load the bases before giving up a two-run single to Chad Tracy, putting Washington up 5-4. Roger Bernardina then doubled in Werth, and Marmol left to loud boos after Wilson Ramos walked.

Shawn Camp then gave up an RBI infield single to Steve Lombardozzi, who led off the inning with a ground out, before retiring Ian Desmond on a fly to right to end the inning.

“I think we can take away from it that we’ve played well,” the Cubs’ Darwin Barney said.

Ryan Mattheus (1-0) got the win. Henry Rodriguez struck out three in the ninth, and four relievers combined to shut out the Cubs over the final 5 1/3 innings after Gonzalez struggled.

An All-Star and 16-game winner last season, he gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.

Garza gave up five hits in six innings and defended his relievers.

“Those two guys have done it before, and they know tomorrow’s another day,” Garza said.