A Predictably Ugly Shutout – Nationals 13, Cubs 0

Game Eighty-Five: Cubs 0, Nationals 13

WP – Gio Gonzalez (6-4) LP – Carlos Villanueva (4-6) Save – None

The Cubs had a bad afternoon Saturday at Nationals Park and saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. The Cubs lost the second game of the series to the Nationals as the team was shutout for the 11th time this season.

The Cubs offense could not figure out Gio Gonzalez for the second time in a week. Seven days after shutting out the Cubs for seven innings at Wrigley Field, Gonzalez limited the Cubs to four hits in eight innings. Fifteen innings of shutout ball for Gonzalez in two starts against the Cubs. The Cubs had only one scoring chance against Gonzalez, and that was in the second inning.

The Cubs managed five hits Saturday and one walk. Justin Ruggiano (2-for-4), Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk), Welington Castillo (1-for-3) and Chris Coghlan (1-for-3) collected the five singles.

PrintCarlos Villanueva was serviceable in the first two innings and gave up only one run. But Villanueva could not record an out in the third as the game quickly got away from the Cubs. Villanueva faced three batters in the third, all three reached and once Villanueva hit his pitch count limit, Rick Renteria went to his pen for Chris Rusin. Villanueva was charged with four runs on five hits with one walk, a wild pitch and two strikeouts. Villanueva threw 58 pitches, 35 for strikes, in two-plus innings.

Chris Rusin replaced Villanueva in the third, as planned, and was hit rather hard in the third inning before putting zeroes on the board in the fourth and fifth innings. Rusin could not record the last out in the sixth as he appeared to run out of gas. Rusin was charged with five runs on nine hits with a walk, a wild pitch and four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Rusin threw 73 pitches, 47 for strikes.

Justin Grimm recorded the last out in the sixth, but he struggled in the seventh as the game went from really, really bad to worse. Grimm was touched up for four runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in one inning. Grimm threw 43 pitches, 27 for strikes. Wesley Wright recorded the last four outs for the Cubs.

The Nationals scored 13 runs on 19 hits and three walks … and eight of the 19 hits went for two bases.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 38-47 on the season.

The Cubs went down in order to start the game on 13 pitches, nine for strikes, and Carlos Villanueva kept the Nationals off the board in the first inning. Villanueva used nearly half of his pitches in the first inning (22 pitches, 12 strikes) and the game went to the second with no score.

The Cubs wasted an opportunity to put runs on the board in the second. Starlin Castro led off with a single to right but was caught stealing second. Welington Castillo followed with a single and Chris Coghlan singled with two outs after Mike Olt struck out. Darwin Barney flied out to Bryce Harper near the left field wall to end the inning. Gonzalez threw 39 pitches, 24 for strikes, in two innings.

The Nationals put a run on the board in the second after Ryan Zimmerman led off the inning with a single to left. Bryce Harper bunted Zimmerman to second and Ian Desmond singled to left. Zimmerman scored, 1-0 Nationals. Villanueva struck out Wilson Ramos and Gio Gonzalez grounded out to third to end the inning. Villanueva threw 38 pitches, 23 for strikes, in two innings. And after two, the Nationals had a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs went down in order in the third and the Nationals removed any doubt they would beat the Cubs Saturday in the third inning. Carlos Villanueva started the inning and gave up a leadoff single to Denard Span. Anthony Rendon worked a full count. Span took off with Villanueva’s pitch and scored easily on Rendon’s double to left. The ball sailed over Coghlan’s head and one-hopped the wall. Jayson Werth worked a full count before he doubled to right center. Rendon scored and the Nationals took a 3-0 lead. Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Villanueva and went to his pen for Chris Rusin.

Adam LaRoche hit a tapper in front of the plate. Welington Castillo picked up the ball and made a bad decision. Castillo threw to third to try to get Werth. The throw was very late and the Nationals had runners on the corners with no outs. Ryan Zimmerman doubled to right. Werth scored, 4-0 Nationals. A wild pitch with Harper at the plate allowed LaRoche to score, 5-0 Nationals. With Zimmerman at third, Harper struck out swinging for the first out. Ian Desmond blooped a single tin right. Zimmerman scored, 6-0 Nationals. Wilson Ramos drove a 1-0 pitch off the wall in right center. Desmond scored easily on what turned out to be a long single, 7-0 Nationals. Gio Gonzalez bunted Ramos to second. Span, the 10th  man to bat in the inning, tapped back to Rusin to end the inning.

After an extremely ugly third inning, the Cubs trailed 7-0.

The game remained 7-0 Nationals until the sixth inning. Chris Rusin kept the Nationals off the board in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Nationals added to their stats in the sixth.

Chris Rusin started the sixth and retired Gonzalez (grounder to short) and Denard Span (strikeout looking) for the first two outs. Anthony Rendon doubled off the left field wall and scored on a Jayson Werth double to left … 8-0 Nationals. Adam LaRoche followed with a single to right. Werth scored, 9-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman singled to center and put runners on first and second for Bryce Harper. Harper singled to left. LaRoche was held at third and with the bases loaded and still two outs, Renteria finally went and got Rusin. Justin Grimm replaced Rusin and Grimm caught Ian Desmond looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order quickly in the seventh and the Nationals added insult to a bad ballgame in the bottom of the inning.

Justin Grimm stayed in for the seventh and Wilson Ramos led off with a double to right center. Gio Gonzalez followed with a single to left and the Nationals had runners on corners with no outs. Grimm struck out Scott Hairston swinging for the first out. Anthony Rendon doubled to right. Ramos scored, 10-0 Nationals. Nate McLouth hit for Werth with runners on second and third with one out and Grimm struck him out looking. Kevin Frandsen singled to right. Gonzalez scored, 11-0 Nationals. Rendon held at third with two down. Ryan Zimmerman doubled in Rendon and Frandsen, 13-0 Nationals. Grimm walked Bryce Harper and Rick Renteria finally went and got him. Wesley Wright replaced Grimm with runners on first and second with two down. Wright caught Desmond looking to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the eighth and Wesley Wright kept the Nationals off the board in the eighth. Justin Ruggiano collected the Cubs fifth hit, but was erased on a double play and Castro flied out to center to end the game.

Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Jordan Zimmermann in the series and season finale with the Nationals on Sunday afternoon (12:35pm CDT).

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon