Game Twenty-Eight – Cubs 8, Nationals 6
WP – John Lackey (4-1) LP – Max Scherzer (3-2) Save – Hector Rondon (5)
The Cubs launched four home runs off Max Scherzer, two from Ben Zobrist. Tommy La Stella tied the game at two with a two-run shot in the second. Anthony Rizzo hit the go-ahead homer in the third. Ben Zobrist went back-to-back with Rizzo in the third and Zobrist smoked a three-run shot in the fifth. John Lackey had an excellent outing and the Cubs hung on to beat the Nationals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
On a hitter’s day at Wrigley, John Lackey missed bats and limited the Nationals to two runs in seven innings. Lackey recorded the 2,000th strikeout of his career in the fourth when he caught Jayson Werth looking at a 2-2 pitch. Lackey came within a strikeout of tying his career high. For the second time this season, Lackey punched out 11 batters. Lackey settled in right around the time the Cubs started lighting up Max Scherzer.
The Cubs managed nine hits, seven went for extra bases and four left the yard.
Ben Zobrist (2-for-2 with two home runs, two walks, three runs scored and four RBI) was in the middle of the scoring all afternoon and he led off the second inning with a walk. Tommy La Stella (2-for-4 with a triple, a home run and two runs scored) stepped in with the Cubs down 2-0 and tied the game. La Stella crushed the first pitch from Scherzer, the ball ended up where the big boys hit ‘em in the bleachers in right center.
John Lackey pitched a 1-2-3 third inning with help from a game-changing catch from Dexter Fowler. Ryan Zimmerman drove a 3-2 pitch to deep center that Fowler caught as he crashed into the brick.
The Cubs went to work with two outs in the third inning. After Jason Heyward (1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored) popped out to short and Kris Bryant (0-for-4) went down swinging, Rizzo stepped in and gave his team the lead.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-2 with a home run, two walks and two runs scored) pulled a 0-1 pitch down the right field line. The ball stayed fair and actually sailed over the foul pole onto Sheffield. The umps took another look, the call was upheld and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead.
Ben Zobrist followed Rizzo and pulled a 1-1 pitch into the bleachers in right field. The back-to-back jacks gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.
The Cubs did not add to the lead in the fourth but appeared to give John Lackey a comfortable lead in the fifth.
Jason Heyward reached with a one-out hustle double to left central. Bryant was caught looking. Max Scherzer wanted nothing to do with Rizzo and walked him on four pitches. And Zobrist made him pay.
Ben Zobrist was sitting fastball and smoked Scherzer’s first pitch into the bleachers in right. Zobrist’s second home run of the day gave the Cubs a 7-2 lead.
Max Scherzer turned the game over to the bullpen in the sixth inning. The Cubs forced Scherzer to throw 96 pitches, 61 for strikes, in five innings.
The Cubs added a much-needed jug run in the sixth. David Ross (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) led off with a double off Blake Treinen. Lackey bunted Ross to second. Dexter Fowler (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled to center through the drawn in infield. Ross scored and the Cubs had an 8-2 lead.
John Lackey pitched a scoreless seventh but the Nationals got back in the game in the eighth off Clayton Richard and Justin Grimm.
Richard walked Bryce Harper and gave up a single to Daniel Murphy. Maddon went to his pen for Justin Grimm. Jayson Werth doubled to left and made it an 8-4 game. Wilson Ramos followed and launched a two-run homer into the bleachers in left center. And just like that, the Cubs lead was down to 8-6. Grimm caught Espinosa looking to end the eighth.
Hector Rondon did not mess around in the ninth. Rondon retired pinch-hitter Chris Heisey (strikeout looking), Ben Revere (grounder to second) and Anthony Rendon (strikeout swinging) on 10 pitches to end the game.
John Lackey was shaky in the first two innings before he settled in. Lackey served up a solo homer to Anthony Rendon in the first inning and a run scoring single to Max Scherzer in the second. Lackey pounded the zone from the second inning on and ended up completing seven innings. Lackey clearly outpitched Max Scherzer on an early May day at Wrigley Field.
Lackey gave up two runs on six hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts on 111 pitches, 75 for strikes, in seven innings.
Clayton Richard and Justin Grimm allowed the Nationals to get back in the game in the eighth. Poor location led to hard contact and on a day with the wind blowing out, the Nationals scored four quick runs.
Hector Rondon was sharp and obviously did not want to face Bryce Harper in the ninth with the Cubs leading by two runs. Rondon picked up three outs on 10 pitches and left Harper in the on deck circle.
With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 22-6 on the season.
Jason Hammel takes on Gio Gonzalez on Saturday afternoon (3:05pm CDT) in game three of four with the Nationals.