Game Fifty-Two – Cubs 2, Nationals 1
WP – Jake Arrieta (5-4) LP – Gio Gonzalez (4-3) Save – Hector Rondon (10)
David Ross picked off Clint Robinson from first base in what was a unbelievable end to the game. The Nationals had Hector Rondon on the ropes, Ross bailed out his pitcher and the Cubs edged out the Nationals in the first of four on Thursday night at Nationals Park.
The Nationals put runners on first and second with one out against Hector Rondon on the ninth. Rondon retired Denard Span for the second out. Rondon continued to struggle with his command and fell behind Anthony Rendon 2-0. Rendon fouled off Rondon’s third offering. Anthony Rizzo signaled the pickoff play to David Ross, who called the pitch. Ross threw a strike to Rizzo and he tagged out Robinson to end the game.
After rain delayed the start of the game for one hour and 51 minutes, the Cubs found a way to beat a very good team on the road without the benefit of a run scoring hit. The Cubs scored both of their runs in the first inning. One on a bases loaded walk by Junior Lake (1-for-2 with a walk and a RBI) that forced in Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a run scored) and Kris Bryant (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) crossed the plate when Starlin Castro (0-for-4) rolled into a 6-4-3 double play.
The offense is still stuck in neutral right now. In the end the early patience paid off and the Cubs beat Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals.
Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4) had two hits Thursday night and his single in the first inning loaded the bases.
Jake Arrieta was very good through the first five innings and ended up with a solid start. Arrieta labored in the sixth inning. Arrieta loaded the bases twice on hit by pitches but the Nationals only managed one run on a ground out to Starlin Castro. The long sixth inning kept Arrieta from going back out for the seventh inning.
Arrieta struck out the leadoff batter in five of the six innings he started and ended up with eight strikeouts on the night. Arrieta turned the game over to the pen with a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.
Jake Arrieta allowed one runs on six hits with no walks, two HBP and eight strikeouts. Arrieta made 97 pitches, 63 for strikes, in six innings.
It was anything but an easy night for the Cubs’ bullpen but the relievers got the job done. The Nationals put runners on base in each of the final three innings but were unable to push across the tying run.
Justin Grimm, James Russell and Jason Motte each recorded an out in the seventh inning. Pedro Strop issued a one-out, four-pitch walk to Bryce Harper in the eighth. And it took David Ross to bail out Hector Rondon in the ninth.
David Ross led the way defensively Thursday night. Ross threw out two runners at second base and the game winning pickoff play at first base. Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler also made plays that covered up a bad decision by Junior Lake in the sixth inning that led to the Nationals’ only run.
With Thursday’s win, the Cubs are 15-10 in one run games and improved to 28-24 on the season.
Dexter Fowler led off the game with a single to right. Kris Bryant walked. Anthony Rizzo singled to right. Fowler was held at third and Lake stepped in with the bases loaded and no outs. Junior Lake put together one of his best at bats in the majors. Lake walked and forced in Fowler, 1-0 Cubs. The first run the Cubs scored against Gio Gonzalez since April 7, 2012 (four starts against the Cubs).
Starlin Castro worked a full count before he rolled into a 6-4-3 double play. Bryant scored on the play and Rizzo went to third. But Castro really let Gonzalez off the hook. Matt Szczur grounded out to second for the third out.
The Cubs scored two runs and made Gio Gonzalez throw 32 pitches (18 strikes) in the first inning. There was a feeling at the end of the inning the Cubs wasted an early opportunity to put the Nationals in a huge hole.
Jake Arrieta faced the minimum in the first inning after Yunel Escobar struck out and Ross threw out Anthony Rendon trying to steal second to end the inning.
The Cubs had a 2-0 lead after the first.
Gio Gonzalez settled in after the opening inning and allowed only two more hits over his final five innings.
Jake Arrieta made 78 pitches, 50 for strikes, over the first five innings. Arrieta started the sixth with a 2-0 lead.
Arrieta caught pinch hitter Tyler Moore looking for the first out in the sixth. Denard Span singled to left center. Junior Lake made a bad decision on a sinking liner off the bat of Anthony Rendon. Lake tried to make a diving catch on a ball that he should have played as a single. The ball skipped past him. Fowler backed up the play and that kept Span from scoring. The Nationals put runners on second and third with one down for Danny Espinosa. Arrieta hit Espinosa with a 0-1 pitch and loaded the bases.
Bryce Harper stepped in with the bags juiced with only one out. Harper chopped a 1-2 pitch over the mound. Castro fielded the ball and threw out Harper at first as Span scored, 2-1 Cubs. Arrieta hit Ryan Zimmerman to reload the bases. Ian Desmond smoked a 0-2 pitch toward first. Rizzo snagged the liner to end the inning.
The Cubs led 2-1 after six innings.
The bullpen did not have a clean inning in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning but Justin Grimm, James Russell, Jason Motte and Pedro Strop got the job done and kept the Nationals from tying the game.
Hector Rondon started the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a one-run lead. Rondon struggled and couldn’t throw strikes. Rondon fell behind Jose Lobaton 3-0 before he flied out to left center on a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Michael Taylor singled to center.
Clint Robinson pinch hit for Aaron Barrett and walked on five pitches. Taylor trotted to second representing the tying run. Denard Span flied out to left center for the second out.
Anthony Rendon stepped in and looked at two out of the zone. Rendon fouled off the 2-0 pitch. Hector Rondon missed with his fourth pitch. But David Ross threw a strike … to Anthony Rizzo at first base. Rizzo applied the tag on Robinson, game over. Cubs win.
Weather permitting … Tsuyoshi Wada squares off against Tanner Roark on Friday night (6:05pm CDT).