Game Fifty-Four – Cubs 4, Nationals 2
WP – Jason Hammel (5-2) LP – Joe Ross (0-1) Save – Pedro Strop (2)
Jason Hammel improved to 8-0 in 11 career starts against the Nationals with another tremendous outing. After the wind kept what appeared to be a two-run homer by Anthony Rendon from leaving the park in the first inning, Hammel settled in and made only one mistake in eight innings. Hammel took the hill in the ninth shooting for a complete game but Bryce Harper took him deep and Joe Maddon went to his pen.
Jason Hammel allowed just one run, a Wilson Ramos homer in the second inning, on four hits in the first eight innings. Hammel walked two and struck out seven on 98 pitches through eight innings. And he even helped himself at the plate. Maddon called for a hit and run with Hammel at the plate and Jonathan Herrera on first in the fifth. Hammel moved Herrera to second with a grounder to first and Herrera scored the go ahead run on a two-out single to left by Dexter Fowler.
Jason Hammel turned the game over to Hector Rondon in the ninth inning with a 4-2 lead. Hammel gave up two runs on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Hammel made 100 pitches, 68 for strikes, in eight-plus innings.
Hector Rondon faced one batter and walked Anthony Rendon. Maddon did not let Rondon pitch to another hitter. Maddon quickly went to his pen for Pedro Strop with a man on first and no outs. Strop got the job done. He struck out two of the three batters he saw in the ninth to nail down the win.
For the second time in as many days the Cubs did not put a runner on base the first time through the lineup. Joe Ross was very good in his Major League debut but the Cubs got to him in the fourth inning.
Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored) led off the fourth with a single and moved to third on a single by Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI). Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a RBI) plated Fowler and tied the game with a smash off Anthony Rendon’s glove at third.
The Cubs took the lead for good in the fifth inning on a pair of two out hits.
Dexter Fowler singled to left to drive in Jonathan Herrera (2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored) from third with the go ahead run. And Anthony Rizzo followed with a double to right that allowed Fowler to score all the way from first base.
Jonathan Herrera’s two-out bloop single in the ninth that drove in Miguel Montero (0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored) gave the Cubs a big insurance run late in the game.
Jonathan Herrera played a big part in Saturday’s win, at the plate and in the field. Addison Russell (0-for-3) made his first start at shortstop and worked extremely well with the veteran Herrera at second base.
Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs improved to 29-25 on the season.
After the wind knocked down what appeared to be a two-run homer by Anthony Rendon in the first inning, the Nationals managed only a Wilson Ramos solo home run leading off the second inning off Jason Hammel through the first eight innings.
Dexter Fowler led off the fourth inning with the Cubs down 1-0 and still looking for their first baserunner. Fowler singled to right on a 2-2 pitch. Anthony Rizzo extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games with a single to center (1-1 pitch). Fowler advanced to third on the play with no outs.
Kris Bryant smoked Joe Ross’ first pitch toward third. The ball ate up Anthony Rendon. Ian Desmond fielded the ball in short left, Fowler scored and tied the game at one. Miguel Montero worked a full count before rolling out to second base. Espinosa flipped to Desmond and forced Bryant. Junior Lake struck out swinging on a ball in the dirt for the second out. And with runners still on the corners, Chris Coghlan grounded a 3-0 pitch to short for the third out.
Jason Hammel sat the Nationals down in order in the fourth … 43 pitches for Hammel, 31 for strikes.
The game was tied at one after four innings.
Jonathan Herrera started the fifth with a bunt single up the first baseline. Maddon called for a hit and run on the first pitch and Jason Hammel grounded out to Zimmerman. Herrera moved to second on the play. Russell advanced Herrera with a grounder to second.
Dexter Fowler poked a 2-1 pitch into left. Herrera trotted home and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead. Anthony Rizzo pulled a 0-1 pitch over Harper’s head in right. The ball one-hopped the wall, Harper stumbled and Fowler scored. The Cubs moved ahead by a 3-1 score on a double by Rizzo. Kris Bryant flied out to right (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Jason Hammel walked Espinosa with two outs in the fifth, but that was all for the Nationals.
And at the end of five, the Cubs had a 3-1 lead.
The Cubs could not put the ball in play against Nationals’ reliever Felipe Paulino. And Jason Hammel kept the Nationals off the board in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The game went to the ninth with the Cubs leading 3-1.
Taylor Hill started the ninth for the Nationals. Miguel Montero put together an excellent at bat that ended with a walk. Junior Lake struck out swinging. Chris Coghlan worked a full count before bouncing out to second base. Montero was running with the pitch and advanced to second on the play.
Jonathan Herrera blooped a 2-2 pitch into center. Montero scored, 4-1 Cubs. Maddon left Hammel in and he struck out swinging to end the inning.
Jason Hammel went back out for the ninth inning after throwing 98 pitches, 67 for strikes, in eight innings.
Bryce Harper led off the ninth with a solo homer to left. Maddon made the slow walk and went to his pen for Hector Rondon.
Hector Rondon walked Anthony Rendon and Maddon did not hesitate. Maddon popped out of the dugout with the tying run stepping to the plate and brought in Pedro Strop to face Wilson Ramos.
Ramos pulled a grounder to the hole at short. Addison Russell glided over, fielded the ball and threw a strike to Herrera at second for the first out. Strop struck out Clint Robinson swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out. And Strop recorded the 27th out by striking out Ian Desmond swinging to end the game.
Kyle Hendricks takes on Jordan Zimmermann in the series and season series finale with the Nationals on Sunday afternoon (3:05pm CDT).