Cubs Steal a Victory in D.C. – Cubs 2, Nationals 1

Game Thirty-Seven – Cubs 2, Nationals 1

WP – James Russell (1-0) LP – Rafael Soriano (0-1) Save – Kevin Gregg (6)

wflag-pubThe Cubs stole one from the Nationals on Sunday afternoon and finished an improbable weekend by taking two of three in the Nation’s Capital. Dale Sveum’s team beat Stephen Strasburg on Saturday then battled back on Sunday afternoon after being no-hit for five innings by Gio Gonzalez.

Davey Johnson lifted Gio Gonzalez for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning after Gonzalez pitched seven innings of shutout ball while allowing only two singles, a walk and striking out six on 86 pitches, 55 for strikes. Gonzalez had a perfect game going through five that was broken up by an infield single by Dioner Navarro to start the sixth.

Dioner Navarro (2-for-3) led off the eighth with the Cubs’ third hit, a single to right. Travis Wood ran for Navarro, advanced to second on a sac but by Darwin Barney then took third when David DeJesus fouled out to Adam LaRoche.

Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) singled to center and plated Wood with the tying run.

Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base) and Julio Borbon reached on back-to-back singles to start the ninth. Rafael Soriano struck out Ryan Sweeney for the first out.

Soriano and Borbon took off on the first pitch to Welington Castillo. Kurt Suzuki tried to throw to third but the ball hit off the end of Castillo’s bat, ended up 30 feet from third base and down the left field line. Soriano scampered home with the go ahead run. The Cubs could not plate Borbon from third and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Kevin Gregg picked up his sixth save in as many chances with a perfect ninth inning.

Scott Feldman did an excellent job of settling down after wiggling out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning with allowing only one run. Feldman gave up a run scoring double to Ryan Zimmerman in the first but that was all. Feldman’s ability to limit the damage gave his team a chance to win the game. Feldman left after completing six innings and allowing one run on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Feldman threw 102 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Kyuji Fujikawa was sharp in the seventh and retired the three batters he faced on 12 pitches, eight for strikes. James Russell picked up the win after tossing a scoreless eighth.

Cubs pitching did not allow the Nationals to score another run after the first inning. The Nationals finished the game 1-for-9 with RISP and left eight men on base.

Two little things happened in the eighth inning that led to the Cubs tying the game that will not show up in a box score. Barney bunted the tying run into scoring position and Travis Wood tagged and advanced to third on a foul out down the right field line.

With Sunday’s victory (1-5 on Sundays in 2013), the Cubs improved to 15-22 on the season and won their second road series of the year.

Scott Feldman struggled in the first inning after giving up a leadoff double to Denard Span. Steve Lombardozzi popped out to Rizzo for the first out. Feldman then walked Bryce Harper and the Nationals had runners on first and second with one down.

Ryan Zimmerman stepped in and drove a 1-1 pitch into right. Span scored and Harper held at third on Zimmerman’s double. Feldman refocused and struck out Adam LaRoche swinging for the second out. Feldman issued his second walk of the inning to Ian Desmond that loaded the bases with two down. Danny Espinosa flied out to left on a 1-1 pitch to end the inning.

Scott Feldman wiggled out of a big jam. He allowed only one run but threw 29 pitches, 14 for strikes.

Gio Gonzalez was perfect through five while Scott Feldman settled in and kept the Nationals off the board over his last five innings of work.

The Cubs remained hitless and the game remained 1-0 until the sixth.

Dioner Navarro led off the sixth with the Cubs first hit of the game, an infield single to the hole at short. Barney popped out to left and Feldman failed to get the bunt down. Feldman lined the ball to Zimmerman but Navarro dove back to first without a throw. Starlin Castro then worked only the second three-ball count against Gio Gonzalez all afternoon. Castro walked and put runners on first and second with two down. Cody Ransom drilled a 3-1 pitch to left. Steve Lombardozzi fielded the hard hit ball cleanly and David Bell had to hold Navarro at third.

Anthony Rizzo stepped in with the bags juiced and two down … and grounded out to first to end the inning.

Scott Feldman stayed in for the sixth. Feldman caught Zimmerman looking for the first out. Adam LaRoche reached on an infield single to third. Feldman then jumped ahead of Desmond 0-2 before losing him and issuing his third walk of the game. With two on and one down, Danny Espinosa popped a 2-0 pitch to Castro in shallow left center (infield fly). Suzuki grounded out to third on a 2-0 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the seventh against Gio Gonzalez … and Kyuji Fujikawa set down the Nationals in order in the seventh.

The game went to the eighth with the Nationals up 1-0.

After Davey Johnson lifted Gio Gonzalez for pinch hitter Chad Tracy in the bottom of the seventh, Johnson had to go to his pen for the eighth. Dioner Navarro greeted Drew Storen with a single to right. Dale Sveum sent Travis Wood in to run for Navarro. Darwin Barney dropped down a bunt and advanced Wood to second.

David DeJesus pinch hit for Kyuji Fujikawa and popped a 1-2 pitch down the right field line. The ball drifted into foul ground and LaRoche caught the ball with his back to the infield. Travis Wood tagged and advanced to third on the play.

Starlin Castro stepped in and skipped a 1-0 pitch back up the box and into center. Wood scored easily and tied the game at one. Cody Ransom followed with a single to left. With two on and two down, Anthony Rizzo ripped a 1-02 pitch toward second. Espinosa fielded the one-hop smash cleanly and threw out Rizzo at first to end the inning.

James Russell pitched around a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper in the eighth thanks to two excellent plays in the outfield. David DeJesus made a nice tumbling grab on a looper in shallow left center off the bat of Adam LaRoche. Then Ryan Sweeney made an excellent running catch in right center to take away extra bases from Ian Desmond. Sweeney caught the ball and avoided DeJesus before crashing into the wall to end the inning.

Rafael Soriano took the hill for the ninth and Alfonso Soriano greeted him with a single to left. Julio Borbon hit for Russell and blooped a 1-0 pitch into left center. Soriano stopped at second with no outs. Welington Castillo stepped in with two on and one out after Sweeney struck out swinging.

Alfonso Soriano took off for third on Soriano’s first pitch to Castillo. Kurt Suzuki caught the strike then tried to throw to third. The ball hit off the end of Castillo’s bat, ended up well down the left field line. Soriano scored and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead. With Borbon at third and the infield in, Castillo popped up a 2-2 pitch to Espinosa for the second out. Roger Bernadina made a diving catch in left on a sinking liner off the bat of Darwin Barney to end the inning.

The game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs up 2-1.

Kevin Gregg retired Espinosa on a flyout to left center then got the call on a 2-2 pitch to Suzuki. Suzuki disagreed with the called third strike on the 2-2 pitch and was ejected from the game … replays showed Suzuki was correct. Gregg struck out Bernadina swinging to end the game.

Kevin Gregg retired the side in order and earned his sixth save of the season.

The Cubs open a three-game series at Wrigley against the Rockies on Monday night … Travis Wood faces Juan Nicasio in game one.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver
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