Game Forty-Five – Cubs 3, Nationals 2
WP – Hector Rondon (3-0) LP – Matt Grace (2-1) Save – None
Kris Bryant tied the game at two in the eighth with a mammoth home run to left and Addison Russell won it in the ninth with a double that plated Jonathan Herrera as the Cubs beat the Nationals in walk-off fashion on Tuesday night at the old ballyard.
Kyle Hendricks tried to make Dexter Fowler’s solo home run in the first inning stand up Tuesday night. But Bryce Harper elevated a ball to left in the seventh inning and the wind carried it into the bleachers for a home run. Even Harper was surprised at what appeared to be a routine fly left the park.
The Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the eighth with help from the wind again. Denard Span hit his second solo homer in as many games, this one off Pedro Strop and broke the 1-1 tie. Jordan Zimmermann left after seven strong innings and turned the game over to the bullpen.
Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a home run) led off the eighth with another impressive at bat. Bryant fell behind Aaron Barrett 0-2. Bryant worked the count back to 3-2 then hit one of the longest home runs at Wrigley Field.
Bryant unloaded on the 3-2 slider and launched the ball to left field. Reports from the park vary if the ball hit the scoreboard or sailed past it. Officially, the ball traveled 477 feet and tied the game at two.
Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth after Yunel Escobar ran the Nationals out of the inning. Escobar took off for third base with two outs and Wilson Ramos at the plate ahead in the count 3-2. Rondon stepped off and threw to third to end the inning.
After Jorge Soler just missed a home run leading off the ninth, Chris Coghlan (1-for-4) singled to center off lefty Matt Grace. Jonathan Herrera batted for Rondon and hit a dribbler to second. Danny Espinosa flipped to Ian Desmond covering the bag and forced Coghlan, who slid in hard at second to mess up the timing on the play. Desmond made an ill-advised throw, the ball sailed into the Nationals’ dugout and Herrera was awarded second base.
Addison Russell (3-for-4 with two doubles and a RBI) stepped in a drove a 1-0 pitch into the gap in right center. The ball one-hopped the ivy, Herrera scored and the Cubs celebrated an impressive victory over the Washington Nationals.
Kyle Hendricks had a very good outing. Hendricks held the Nationals offense to a wind-blown solo homer by Bryce Harper in his seven innings of work. Hendricks hit his spots, kept the ball down, induced 11 groundball outs and the Cubs turned two double plays behind him. Hendricks threw the ball extremely well.
Kyle Hendricks has allowed one run on nine hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts over his last 16 innings (two starts).
Pedro Strop was charged with one run on one hit in his inning of work. Strop did not make a bad pitch to Denard Span. The mistake Strop made was throwing a ball that could be elevated on a night with the wind blowing out.
Kyle Hendricks, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon limited the Nationals to two runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
The Cubs scored three runs on nine hits with three walks on Tuesday night. And long forgotten was the solo homer Dexter Fowler (1-for-4 with a home run) hit in the first inning. Fowler led off a game this season for the second time with a home run, the 11th leadoff homer of his career.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double and a walk), Starlin Castro (1-for-4) and Miguel Montero (1-for-3 with a walk) had three of the nine hits. Addison Russell set a career-high with three hits Tuesday … and the first game winning hit of his career.
The Cubs defense played a huge part in Tuesday’s win. Addison Russell turned in another web gem when he made a diving stop on a ball ticketed for center and took a hit away from Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning. Kris Bryant made a couple of difficult plays look rather routine and Miguel Montero picked off Escobar from first base in the first with Bryce Harper at the plate to end the inning.
The defensive play of the night belonged to Starlin Castro. With the tying run on second base and two down in the third inning, Castro made a diving stop in the hole on a ball that appeared to be a single off the bat. Castro kept the ball in the infield and Hendricks retired Ian Desmond with runners on the corners to end the inning.
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 25-20 on the season.
Jon Lester versus Max Scherzer in the series finale Wednesday night (7:05pm CDT).