Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster delivers during the second inning of an opening day baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Thursday, April 5, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
It's a good thing expectations for the 2012 Chicago Cubs are low.
They started the season with a 2-1 heartbreaker of a loss.
Pitching in relief of starter Ryan Dempster, who tossed a 7-inning scoreless gem, Kerry Wood walked in the tying run with two-outs in the eighth.
Washington went ahead in the ninth when Chad Tracy hit a two-out double off the right-field wall against Carlos Marmol (0-1), and Desmond followed with his third hit.
On the other side, Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg dominated in his first opening-day start.
Strasburg struck out five and walked one. He reached 98 mph when he struck out Starlin Castro in the sixth.
Dempster, also making his first opening start, struck 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 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.
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,
Wood came on and walked Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche and then Jayson Werth on a 3-2 pitch, sending a loud groan through the ballpark.