CHICAGO -- Stephen Strasburg could hardly wait for this one.
His first opener, at Wrigley Field for the first time.
"Just to think about all the Hall of Famers who have played here, it's an honor," he said.
It's even better on days like this.
Strasburg allowed one run and five hits, including an RBI single to Marlon Byrd in the fourth. He was pinch hit for in the eighth, when Kerry Wood forced in the tying run with three straight walks, and did not figure in the decision.
Strasburg struck out five and walked one. He reached 98 mph when he struck out Starlin Castro in the sixth.
Ryan Dempster, making his fourth opening start, was just as dominant, striking out 10 in 7 2/3 innings.
Chicago started its first season since Theo Epstein was hired away from Boston in hopes of helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908.
Tyler Clippard (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth to win in relief. Brad Lidge gave up a one-out triple off the right-field wall by Ian Stewart in the ninth but got the save in his Nationals debut when pinch-runner Joe Mather was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to third and Byrd ended the game by taking a called third strike.
"The tone has been set," Desmond said. "When we came to spring training, we were all itching to get there. When we all showed up early, that set the tone. We've been chomping at the bit to get out there. It was definitely exciting."
Dempster allowed a single by Desmond on the game's first pitch, then didn't allow another hit until Desmond singled with one out in the eighth. Dempster left to a standing ovation after striking out Danny Espinosa, but the cheers quickly faded,
"There were a couple that could have gone either way," Wood said.
The big question for the Cubs is where they go from here.
Optimism isn't hard to find around Wrigleyville these days even if the anticipation is more for what happens down the road than this season. The arrival of Epstein along with new general manager Jed Hoyer sparked hope among championship-starved fans, and the newcomers have certainly have been busy. They hired Dale Sveum to replace Mike Quade as manager, traded the troubled Carlos Zambrano to Miami and parted ways with slugger Aramis Ramirez.
They've made it clear they intend to stock the farm system while trying to remain competitive now. That might be a stretch for a team in transition even if there's new hope at the moment.
"There are dozens and dozens and dozens of people -- the players first of all -- working extremely hard to bring this organization forward," Epstein said.
Noted Cubs fan Bill Murray had some fun before the game. He ran around the bases and threw the ball to Wood at home before sliding across the plate. He then bounced the ceremonial first pitch. Murray also said the Cubs would win every game before leading the seventh-inning rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." ... The Cubs held 1B Bryan LaHair out of the starting lineup because of a minor nerve issue in his back that's been bothering him the past few days. Jeff Baker started in his place. LaHair thinks he will be available off the bench Saturday and back in the lineup on Sunday. ... Matt Garza is scheduled to start Saturday for the Cubs against Gio Gonzalez. ... Nationals RHP Chien-Ming Wang (hamstring) and RHP Drew Storen (elbow) flew to Florida on Thursday to begin rehab at the spring training complex. Storen is already throwing off of the mound and Wang is 3-4 days away, manager Davey Johnson said. He expects them to be activated by the end of April.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hammers his 26th home run of the season to center field to get Atlanta on the board.
Trevor Story is expected to return to the Rockies' lineup "in a few days," Colorado manager Bud Black said, after an MRI revealed no structural damage to the shortstop's elbow.
Cubs closer Brandon Morrow, sidelined since mid-July by what the team had called biceps inflammation, won't pitch again this season due to a bone bruise, Theo Epstein, the team's president of baseball operations, said Tuesday.
The Texas Rangers and Nashville Sounds announced a four-year contract for the Sounds to become Texas' Triple-A affiliate. The Round Rock Express in suburban Austin, Texas, had been the team's top affiliate the past eight years.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone says LHP Justus Sheffield could give the team "a couple of innings (out of the bullpen) if we needed it."
Rick Sutcliffe dissects the Yankees' recent struggles and who needs to step to make a run in the postseason.