Game Fifty-Five – Cubs 6, Nationals 3
WP – Kyle Hendricks (2-2) LP – Jordan Zimmermann (5-3) Save – Jason Motte (1)
The Cubs played a good game and put together one of the best all-around team wins of the season. The Cubs scored six runs on 14 hits without a ball leaving the yard. Not a single Cubs hitter gave away an at bat Sunday and really made it difficult on Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals bullpen. Zimmermann made 92 pitches in five innings before Matt Williams had to go to his bullpen. Sunday was the first time in 16 starts at Nationals Park that Zimmermann did not leave the mound with at least a quality start.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with two RBI) drove in Chris Coghlan (2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two RBI and a run scored) with the first run of the game. And Jonathan Herrera (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Chris Denorfia (3-for-5 with a run scored) with two outs in the fourth and tied the game at two.
Chris Coghlan broke the 2-2 tie with a two-run single in the fifth that allowed both Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) and Kris Bryant (3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a walk and two runs scored) to score. The Cubs tacked on two more in the sixth inning on a wild pitch and a single from Starlin Castro.
Kris Bryant was a home run short of a cycle. Anthony Rizzo extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. Dexter Fowler (1-for-5 with a double) added a double as each one of Maddon’s starting eight reached base on Sunday. The 14 hits was the first time the Cubs recorded double digits hits in a nine-inning game since May 12 (11 hits in 6-1 win over the Mets and Noah Syndergaard at Wrigley Field).
Kyle Hendricks lasted only five innings Sunday but he recorded the two biggest outs of the game before he turned it over to the bullpen. Hendricks served up a two-run home to Ian Desmond in the second inning after an error by Starlin Castro put a man on first base. Hendricks settled down and retired seven in a row before a rough fifth inning.
Yunel Escobar cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3 in the fifth. With Harper and Rendon due up, two on and one out, Hendricks refocused after a visit from Chris Bosio. Kyle Hendricks retired Bryce Harper on a fly out to shallow right center and Anthony Rendon on a foul out to Rizzo to end the inning.
Joe Maddon used his less structured bullpen to perfection over the last four innings. Justin Grimm tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning. Grimm and James Russell combined on a scoreless seventh. Hector Rondon pitched a perfect eighth and Jason Motte closed it down with a three up, three down ninth inning for his first save since October 2012.
The Cubs won the series (3-1) and season series (4-3) against the Nationals. This is the first time since 2010 the Cubs took a season series from Nationals and the first time the Cubs won a four-game series at Nationals Park since 2009.
With Sunday’s win (4-6 on Sunday in 2015), the Cubs improved to 30-25 on the season.
The Cubs took an early in the second inning. After Miguel Montero struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) to start the inning, Chris Coghlan drove a 1-2 pitch out to left. The ball one-hopped the wall and Coghlan ended up at second with a double.
Starlin Castro blooped a 2-2 pitch into left center. Coghlan read the ball perfectly and scored, 1-0 Cubs. Chris Denorfia singled to left on a 0-2 pitch. Hendricks’ inability to get the bunt down changed the course of the inning. Hendricks bunted back to the mound. Castro was forced at third for the second out. And Jonathan Herrera fouled out to Harper in right to end the inning.
Wilson Ramos led off the second inning and rolled a 0-2 pitch to short. Starlin Castro bobbled the routine grounder then threw high to first. Castro was charged with his 13th error of the season. Kyle Hendricks made a mistake on a 2-0 pitch to Ian Desmond, and the Nationals’ shortstop drove the ball out to right field. Desmond’s fifth longball of the year gave the Nats a 2-1 lead.
Hendricks struck out Tyler Moore and retired Taylor on a flyout to right. Jordan Zimmermann singled to center. But Denard Span grounded to second for the third out. Hendricks made 39 pitches, 26 for strikes, in two innings.
After two complete, the Cubs trailed 2-1.
The Cubs were not able to cash in a leadoff double by Dexter Fowler in the third. Rizzo flied out to left center. After Kris Bryant reached on an infield single to hole at short, Montero flied out to deep right center (3-2 pitch) and Coghlan flied out to right center on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Kyle Hendricks sat down the side in order in the third. And the game went to the fourth with the Cubs down 2-1.
Chris Denorfia singled to right with one out in the fourth. Hendricks advanced him to second on a slow roller to Rendon at second. Jonathan Herrera pulled a 2-2 pitch into right. Denorfia slid in safe at home and tied the game at two. Fowler popped out to third to end the inning.
Kyle Hendricks retired the Nationals in order in the fourth. The game went to the fifth tied at two.
Anthony Rizzo led off the fifth with an infield single up the middle in the shift. Kris Bryant pulled a 0-1 pitch into left. Rizzo stopped at third on a double by Kris Bryant. Miguel Montero walked to load the bases.
Chris Coghlan smoked a 1-1 pitch off Tyler Moore’s glove and into right field. Rizzo and Bryant scored, 4-2 Cubs. Castro popped out to Rendon in shallow right for the first out. Chris Denorfia was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch and Hendricks flied out to right to end the inning. The Cubs made Zimmermann throw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes, in five innings.
Hendricks made his way to the mound with a 4-2 lead for the fifth. Taylor grounded out to Bryant (2-2 pitch) for the first out. Clint Robinson hit for Zimmermann and singled to left center. Denard Span followed with a single to right center (1-2 pitch) and the Nationals had runners on first and third with one down.
Yunel Escobar singled to right (1-1 pitch), Robinson scored and cut the Cubs’ lead to 4-3.
After a visit from Chris Bosio, Kyle Hendricks did his best work of the day. Bryce Harper flied out to Fowler in short right center and Anthony Rendon fouled out to Rizzo to end the inning.
The Cubs led 4-3 after five complete.
Blake Treinen replaced Zimmermann for the sixth and made quick work of Herrera (pop out to third) and Fowler (grounder to second) to start the inning.
Anthony Rizzo doubled into the right field corner. Treinen wanted nothing to do with Bryant and walked him. Miguel Montero walked and loaded the bases with two outs.
A 1-1 pitch to Coghlan skipped past Ramos. Rizzo broke from third and scored, 5-3 Cubs. Treinen put Coghlan on first base with two more pitches out of the zone. Castro made the Nationals pay for intentionally walking Coghlan.
Starlin Castro singled to left center. Bryant scored and gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead. But Montero was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Justin Grimm tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning. And after six complete, the Cubs led 6-3.
The Cubs did nothing against Aaron Barrett in the seventh. The Nationals threatened against Justin Grimm and James Russell in the seventh. Russell retired Bryce Harper for the first time in his career with a flyout to left with runners on first and second to end the inning.
The Cubs were not able to cash-in a two-out triple by Kris Bryant in the eighth and Hector Rondon pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth.
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs leading 6-3.
Matt Thornton surrendered a two-out single to Chris Denorfia in the ninth. But that was all and Jason Motte made his way to the mound for the ninth inning.
In search of his first save since Oct. 3, 2012, Jason Motte sat down the Nationals in order to end the game.
Monday is a day off for the Cubs. Joe Maddon and company open a brief two-game series Tuesday night (6:08pm CDT) in Detroit. Jon Lester is scheduled to face Anibal Sanchez.