Cubs Not Able to Back Arrieta – Nationals 2, Cubs 1

Game Eighty-Six: Cubs 1, Nationals 2

WP – Tyler Clippard (6-2) LP – Pedro Strop (1-4) Save – Rafael Soriano (21)

The offense put runners on base in each of the first eight innings but managed only one run as the Cubs dropped the series and season series finale Sunday afternoon to the Nationals.

The Cubs outhit the Nationals (10-7) and pounded out 10 hits against the Nationals staff. Starlin Castro (0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly RBI) drove in the Cubs lone run with a sac fly in the seventh inning. The Cubs were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.

With the game tied at one in the top of the eighth, the Cubs put runners on second and third with one out. Pinch-hitter Welington Castillo was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch and Ryan Sweeney (1-for-4) grounded out to second to end the inning. It was that kind of day for the Cubs. And with that said, at least Rick Renteria had his team ready to play Sunday.

PrintJustin Ruggiano (2-for-4 with a double and a walk) stayed hot at the plate and reached base three times. Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4) collected two hits and John Baker (2-for-2 with two walks) was on base four times in four at bats. Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a stolen base) and Darwin Barney (1-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt) also reached base with singles.

The offense had a good approach against Jordan Zimmermann and ran up his pitch count. In the end the Cubs managed only one run over the last two games of the series and for the season, the Cubs are 8-14 in one-run games.

Jake Arrieta put together another very good outing Sunday afternoon. Arrieta struggled a little bit with his command and issued more than one free pass in a single start for the first time since June 3. Arrieta kept the ball down once again and had a little extra on his fastball when he needed it. Arrieta really did not make a mistake over his six innings of work and the Nationals made very little hard contact against Arrieta.

The lone run that Jake Arrieta was charged with scored in the first inning after Justin Ruggiano played a fly ball into a leadoff double for Denard Span. Span moved to third on a grounder to Darwin Barney and scored on a grounder to Luis Valbuena at third with the infield in.

Jake Arrieta allowed one run on four hits with three walks, a wild pitch and five strikeouts. Arrieta threw 90 pitches, 57 for strikes, in six innings.

Brian Schlitter pitched a scoreless seventh. But the Nationals were able to plate the winning run in the eighth against Pedro Strop. Denard Span led off the eighth with a double and scored on a two-out single by Ryan Zimmerman.

The Cubs dropped two of three to the Nationals over the weekend and finished the season series against the Nationals with a 3-4 record.

With Sunday’s loss (4-9 on Sunday in 2014), the Cubs dropped to 38-48 on the season.

The Cubs managed a Justin Ruggiano double in the first inning, but that was all. The offense set the tone for the afternoon and at least made Jordan Zimmermann work. Zimmermann needed 20 pitches, 13 for strikes, to record the first three outs of the ballgame.

Denard Span received a gift double to start his afternoon. Span lined a 1-0 offering from Arrieta into left center. Justin Ruggiano misplayed the ball and it sailed over his head. Span ended up at second and advanced to third when Anthony Rendon grounded out to second base. Rendon’s productive out led to the Nationals’ first run. With the infield in, Jayson Werth grounded a 1-2 pitch to the left of Valbuena. The Cubs’ third baseman made a diving stop. Valbuena had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. Span broke on contact and scored as Luis Valbuena threw out Werth at first base. Arrieta walked Adam LaRoche and a wild pitch on a 0-2 offering to Ryan Zimmerman allowed him to take second base. Zimmerman grounded out to short for the third out. Jake Arrieta gave up a run on a hit and it took him 10 pitches, seven for strikes, to complete the first inning.

After one, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

Jake Arrieta held the Nationals in check for the next five innings and worked out of his only jam in the fifth inning. The Cubs put runners on base in each of the six innings Jordan Zimmermann pitched. But the offense could not string together any hits. The Cubs collected seven hits and one walk against Zimmerman but were 0-for-5 with RISP and left eight on base in the first six frames.

Drew Storen replaced Jordan Zimmermann for the seventh inning with Nationals up 1-0.

Chris Coghlan hit for Arrieta to start the seventh and singled to center on a 3-2 pitch. Renteria had Ryan Sweeney bunt Coghlan to second. Justin Ruggiano worked a walk and put runners on first and second with one out. Anthony Rizzo singled to right center. Denard Span looked like he was going to throw to the plate. Gary Jones stopped Coghlan at third after Coghlan misread the ball off Rizzo’s bat. Starlin Castro stepped in with the bases loaded and one out. Castro popped a 1-1 pitch into shallow center. Span caught the ball as Coghlan tagged from third. Coghlan dove in headfirst and touched the plate just before Ramos received the ball, and the Cubs tied the game at one. Matt Williams went to his pen for lefty Jerry Blevins, and Luis Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning.

Brian Schlitter faced the minimum in the seventh … and the game went to the eighth tied at one.

The Cubs were not able to push across a run in the eighth against Tyler Clippard. The Cubs put runners on second and third with one out, but Welington Castillo was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch and Ryan Sweeney grounded out to second to end the inning.

Pedro Strop took the hill in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game and Denard Span reached on a bloop double to right. Anthony Rendon flied out to right and Jayson Werth struck out swinging. Strop intentionally walked Adam LaRoche and put runners on first and second with two down. Ryan Zimmerman singled to left (1-1 pitch) and Span scored just before Luis Valbuena tagged LaRoche out between second and third to end the inning.

Rafael Soriano retired the Cubs in order in the ninth on eight pitches to end the game.

The Cubs open a five-game series in Cincinnati on Monday with Edwin Jackson facing Mike Leake.

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne