If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Another – Cubs 6, Nationals 11

Game One Hundred Twenty-Six – Cubs 6, Nationals 11

WP – Tanner Roark (3-0) LP – James Russell (1-4) Save – None

The Cubs battled back from an early 6-1 hole and tied the game at six with a five-run fifth inning, but Scott Hairston hit a three-run pinch-hit homer off James Russell in the seventh and the Nationals added two more in the eighth off Hector Rondon to put the game away. The Cubs dropped game three of the four-game series despite outhitting the Nationals 14-11 on Wednesday night.

After picking up in the first inning where he left off against the Cardinals, Jake Arrieta had a rough night. Arrieta had little to no command, fell behind just about every hitter he faced and gave up six runs on five hits in four innings. Arrieta walked four, and three of those free passes scored. Jayson Werth hit the first of two three-run homers on the night for the Nationals off Arrieta in the third inning. Arrieta did strikeout five batters but showed for the first time in a Cubs’ uniform why the Orioles were willing to part with him as part of a package for Scott Feldman. Arrieta has a lot of ability but struggles with his command and consistency.

Carlos Villanueva and Michael Bowden kept the Nationals off the board in the fifth and sixth innings.

James Russell was not very good once again. Russell gave up a deep fly to Bryce Harper with two down in the seventh that went for a double. After intentionally walking Jayson Werth, Scott Hairston pinch-hit for Tanner Roark and beat his former team with a three-run shot into the bleachers in left.

The Nationals put together three, three-run innings highlighted by a pair of three-run homers and scored two more runs off Hector Rondon in the eighth. Cubs’ pitching allowed 11 runs on 11 hits and six walks … over the last two games, Cubs’ pitching has issued 13 free passes.

Anthony Rizzo (3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and a walk) drove in half of the Cubs’ runs on Wednesday night with two home runs. Rizzo hit a solo shot in the first and a two-run blast that started the Cubs’ five run fifth inning. Rizzo has hit 20 home runs this season, and became the second youngest Cubs left-handed hitter to reach 20 homers in a single season since 1900. Billy Williams hit 25 longballs as a 23-year old in 1961.

Junior Lake (2-for-5 with a double and a run scored) collected two more hits, including his tenth double of the season. Donnie Murphy (2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) drove in a run and scored another and Brian Bogusevic (2-for-5) collected two hits. Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a run scored) reached base twice and scored a run hitting out of the leadoff spot.

The Cubs outhit the Nationals 14-11 but managed only two walks.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to a season-low 18 games under .500 with a 54-72 record.

Jake Arrieta started the game by retiring all three batters he faced in the first inning on 11 pitches, eight for strikes.

After Castro grounded out to second in the first inning, Anthony Rizzo worked a full count then launched Ohlendorf’s next pitch into the bleachers in right center. Rizzo’s 19th homer of the season put the Cubs up 1-0. Junior Lake followed with a hustle double to left center. Harper slipped in left center and the always hustling Lake slid in safe at second. Ohlendorf struck out Schierholtz swinging and Murphy popped out to LaRoche at first to end the inning. The Cubs made Ohlendorf throw 24 pitches, 17 for strikes, in the first inning.

Jake Arrieta took the hill for the second inning with a 1-0 lead … but it did not last long. Arrieta lost his command after an impressive first inning. Arrieta struck out Werth swinging to start the second then issued a four pitch walk to Ian Desmond. Adam LaRoche singled to left. Arrieta continued pitching from behind and walked Steve Lombardozzi to load the bases with one out.

Kurt Suzuki smoked a 2-2 pitch past Rizzo and into right field. Desmond and LaRoche scored and gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead. With runners on the corners and one down, Ross Ohlendorf dropped down a bunt right in front of the plate. Lombardozzi came down the line with Murphy and scored on a perfectly executed safety squeeze … 3-1 Nationals. Span grounded out to second to finally end the inning. Arrieta threw 31 pitches in the second inning and gave up three runs on two hits with two walks. After two innings, Arrieta’s pitch count was rather elevated (42 pitches, 25 strikes).

The Cubs did nothing in the second and the Nationals went right back to work against Arrieta in the third.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the third with a single to left. Arrieta walked Harper (3-1 pitch) then fell behind Jayson Werth 3-0. Arrieta threw his next pitch right over the plate to Werth … and he deposited the ball into the bleachers in left center. All three walks Arrieta issued (at the time) scored and the Nationals took a 6-1 lead. Arrieta struck out Desmond and LaRoche before giving up a single to Lombardozzi. Suzuki grounded out to short for the third out. Arrieta barely made it through the third and needed 65 pitches, 37 for strikes, to complete three innings on Wednesday night.

The Cubs put two on against Ohlendorf in the third, but came away empty. Starlin Castro reached on a one-out single to left. Rizzo walked. Denard Span then made a sliding catch in center to take away a hit from Junior Lake. Schierholtz grounded out to Desmond at short to end the inning. Ohlendorf needed 54 pitches, 34 for strikes, to complete three frames on Wednesday.

At the end of three complete, the Cubs trailed 6-1.

Jake Arrieta faced the minimum in the fourth after issuing a leadoff walk to Ross Ohlendorf. Denard Span grounded into a 5-6-3 double play and Arrieta caught Zimmerman looking to end the inning.

The Cubs managed a two-out walk by Barney in the fourth … but that was all. At the end of four innings, the Cubs were down 6-1.

Carlos Villanueva took over for Arrieta in the fifth and Logan Watkins entered the game at second on a double switch. Villanueva retired all three batters he faced in the fifth.

The Cubs had one of their better innings of the season in the fifth … and scored five runs on seven hits.

Logan Watkins led off the fifth with a single to left center. Castro grounded into a 5-4 force and took over at first base. Anthony Rizzo crushed a 1-0 pitch from Ohlendorf. The ball cleared the stands in right and ended up onto Sheffield Avenue. Rizzo’s second longball of the night, and 20th of the season, cut the Nationals lead to 6-3.

Junior Lake followed Rizzo’s blast with a bloop single to right. Davey Johnson went to his pen and replaced Ross Ohlendorf with Tanner Roark.

Nate Schierholtz greeted Roark with a single to right. Lake advanced to third with one down. Donnie Murphy singled to right center. Lake scored and cut the Nationals lead to 6-4. Brian Bogusevic singled to left and loaded the bases with one out.

Cole Gillespie hit for Carlos Villanueva and pulled a 3-1 pitch into left. Schierholtz scored, 6-5 Nationals. Welington Castillo stepped in with the bases loaded and one down and lifted a 0-2 pitch into center. Murphy tagged and scored the tying run. Logan Watkins hit for the second time in the inning and grounded out to first for the third out.

The Cubs battled back and tied the game at six.

Michael Bowden kept the Nationals off the board in the sixth and Tanner Roark struck out the side in order in the bottom of the sixth.

The game went to the seventh still tied at six.

James Russell retired Span on a grounder to first to start the seventh. Ryan Zimmerman smoked a 3-2 pitch right at Castro for the second out. Bryce Harper pulled Russell’s first pitch to deep center, just to the right of straight away center. Lake went back on the ball but got to close the ivy. Lake had a chance to catch the ball but did not and Harper ended up at second with a two-out double. On a night with the wind howling out, Russell intentionally walked Jayson Werth.

Davey Johnson sent up Scott Hairston to hit for Roark and Hairston did what Hairston always does against lefties. Hairston launched a 1-2 pitch from Russell into the bleachers in left … and the Nationals’ second three-run homer of the night put them up 9-6. Russell retired LaRoche on a flyout to right to end the inning.

The Cubs could not cash in a leadoff single from Nate Schierholtz in the seventh … and the game went to the eighth with the Cubs down 9-6.

Hector Rondon started the eighth and retired Lombardozzi on a grounder to first to start the inning. Suzuki singled to center but Rondon caught Rendon looking for the second out. Rondon then uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Span. Suzuki advanced to second and scored when Denard Span pulled Rondon’s next pitch into the right field corner. Span ended up at third with a triple and scored on a single to right by Ryan Zimmerman … 11-6 Nationals. Rondon retired Harper to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Clippard in the eighth and Rondon kept the Nationals off the board in the ninth.

Anthony Rizzo led off the ninth with a single to right center off of Rafael Soriano. Lake popped out to third and Schierholtz struck out swinging. Donnie Murphy singled to right. Rizzo held at second with two down. Brian Bogusevic blooped a 1-2 pitch into left. Rizzo rounded third but stopped and was eventually tagged out (7-5-2-6) to end the game.

Travis Wood faces Stephen Strasburg in the season and series finale against the Nationals on Thursday afternoon.

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