For the Cubs to win this series, they will need Bryant and Rizzo to stay hot.

Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs beat Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg 3-0 in a well-pitched opener Friday night.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is today, with Jon Lester set to start for Chicago against fellow left-hander Gio González. Jon Lester (13-8) starts for the defending World Series champions against Gio Gonzalez (15-9) and Washington after two-time Cy Young Award victor Max Scherzer was pushed back to Game 3 because of a tender hamstring. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. “It’s a little bit harder now than if we win this game”. One came with Strasburg at the plate with two outs in the second (he grounded out to first on a checked swing). The slender righty from Dartmouth, who led the NL in ERA last season, did not give up a hit after the second inning. Hendricks was even better, giving up only two singles in seven strong innings. He struck out six.

Nats manager Dusty Baker said Scherzer will start Game 3 in Chicago on Monday. Scherzer has been dealing with a sore right hamstring.

Lackey will be used as a reliever if Jake Arrieta is healthy enough to pitch Game 4, if necessary.

Strasburg has been dominant since the all-star break. In 10 starts before Friday, he was 6-1 with an 0.86 ERA. That was the second lowest ERA after the all-star break in Major League Baseball history, behind Arrieta’s 0.75 ERA in 2015.

That brilliance continued in Game 1. The problem was Kyle Hendricks, who allowed a first-inning single to Bryce Harper, a second-inning single to Michael A. Taylor and then nothing else except for free passes until he departed after the seventh.

So did Hendricks in a duel of contrasting styles with Strasburg. Through five innings, the right-hander struck out eight and allowed one baserunner – a second-inning walk to Addison Russell.

Hendricks was equally effective with a less overpowering repertoire, using movement and location on 88-89 miles per hour fastballs and change-ups. The right-hander, who had a 2.19 ERA in 13 starts after coming off the DL on July 24 with tendinitis in his right hand, pitched around a couple of mild threats early. So hearing that he said that about me means a lot. “Why? Because the velocity is ticking up”. Early in the game I was up, a few balls on the barrel.

“I thought I had it”, Rendon said. Just for two at-bats, and that’s all it took. It’s an error. It’s just like when you have a auto accident. They did draw three walks, get hit by a pitch and reach on an error, but they never could string together anything of substance. “They got three, two-strike, two-out hits, and that was the ballgame”.

Baez advanced on Hendricks’ sacrifice bunt. He got Kris Bryant swinging at a curveball and Anthony Rizzo swinging at a changeup to end the top of the first, then opened the top of the second catching Willson Contreras looking at a 98 miles per hour fastball. Báez scored easily from second, but Harper’s ill-advised attempt to throw him out resulted in an overthrown cutoff man, allowing Bryant to take second and put himself into scoring position. The Nats challenged the call, which was upheld after review. And at one point he had Bryant, Rizzo and Contreras utterly flummoxed.

It all came down in the sixth inning, when a lazy fielding error by Nats third baseman Anthony Rendon gave Cubs lumbermen Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo a chance to bat.

“One game at a time”, Rendon said.

If you’re going to watch only one game, tune in for: Cubs-Nationals.

Arizona made two changes to its roster from the wild-card game against Colorado, adding Game 1 starter Taijuan Walker and Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker while dropping outfielder Rey Fuentes and catcher Chris Herrmann. “By next week or the end of this five-game series, we might do something different”.