CHICAGO — Manager Joe Maddon loves what Ben Zobrist brings to the Cubs' locker room.
"He's this thing that spreads," Maddon said of one of his stars when they were with the Rays.
Maddon can't complain about what Zobrist is doing on the field lately, either.
Zobrist homered for the third straight game, connecting twice Friday as the Cubs defeated the Nationals 8-6 for their fifth win in a row.
"Any time you start feeling good at the plate, it makes the game a lot more fun, especially with a nice warm day and the wind blowing out," Zobrist said. "I think probably a week ago, both of those balls I hit would have been caught."
Zobrist, who has homered three games in a row, drove in four runs for the second consecutive day against the Nationals as the Cubs won for the ninth time in 10 games and improved to a major league-leading 22-6.
That's the best 28-game start in the National League since the 1977 Dodgers also were 22-6.
Anthony Rizzo added a towering solo homer and Tommy La Stella hit a two-run shot as the Cubs took advantage of the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field.
Cubs starter John Lackey struck out 11, one shy of his career high, in seven innings. He became the fifth active pitcher with 2,000 strikeouts, joining CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez and Jake Peavy.
"I guess it means I'm old and been around awhile, done a few things," said Lackey, 37.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer gave up seven runs and seven hits, allowing four home runs for the second time in his career, in five innings.
"The damage came from Rizzo and Zobrist," Scherzer said. "I wasn't able to contain the lefties in their lineup. When you look at it like that, they do a great job of putting in a good approach against right-handed pitching."
Scherzer hadn't given up seven runs in a game since joining the Nationals last year. He surrendered 10 in 2014 when he pitched for Detroit against Kansas City.