Nationals fail to play role of spoiler as Cubs win in 10 innings

September 14, 2018

Major League Baseball played the role of spoiler when it came to the Cubs’ travel plans off the field.

But the Nationals couldn’t do the same on the field Thursday, losing 4-3 in 10 innings at home to the first-place Cubs in a makeup of the rainout Sunday at Nationals Park. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Nationals.

The Cubs’ Javier Baez drove in the go-ahead run with a bunt single in the top of the 10th inning against Washington closer Sean Doolittle.

But Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop, hitting with the bases loaded, was injured running to first on the last out of the inning and couldn’t pitch the last of the 10th. Randy Rosario got the final three outs for the Cubs.

Earlier this week, the Cubs tossed out the option of playing the game on Oct. 1, since the club could end up playing 30 days in a row. It appeared earlier that Hurricane Florence would bring a lot of rain or worse to the D.C. area, which was a concern to the Cubs.

“Our voices have certainly been heard, but we don’t have any control,” Cubs president Theo Epstein told The Chicago Tribune early in the week.

Chicago got to its hotel about 4 a.m. Thursday.

The Nationals (74-72) now have 15 games left after starting the day eight games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The first-place Cubs (85-61) began Thursday one game up on the Brewers in the National League Central.

“It’s been a grinding week, not just for us, but the Cubs as well,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.

The Nationals tied the game at 3 in the seventh as Trea Turner smashed an RBI double to left to score speedy Victor Robles.

Baez had crushed a solo homer to right off Nationals reliever Jimmy Cordero to give his club a 3-2 lead in the sixth.

The Nationals had tied the game at 2 in the fifth when Robles drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to score Adrian Sanchez.

The Cubs grabbed a 2-1 lead in the fourth off Nationals starter Joe Ross, who allowed two runs in five innings.

Baez had an RBI double giving him 101 RBI this year and Victor Caratini followed with a run-scoring single.

Nationals catcher Spencer Kieboom hit a homer in his second straight start to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the third.

Among those behind the Cubs third-base dugout was Billie Whitt, from the northern neck of Virginia. She wore a Cubs jersey with Maddon’s name on the back and said her son-in-law, who passed away at the age of 32 in 2016 due to a heart attack, was buried in a Cubs casket near Richmond.

Whitt’s daughter, Bethanie Fielder was at the game Thursday wearing a jersey of former Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta.

“I grew up watching the Cubs on TV,” said Fielder.

“My daughter was at the game on Friday and then came and got me and we were at both games Saturday. We got home about 3 a.m. and I think that was the first time I missed church in a long time,” Whitt said.

Another Cubs fan, Jim Hides, 50, grew up in the Chicago area and has lived in the D.C. area for 25 years. He was well aware of the challenging schedule for his team.

“They have to play 30 games in 30 days,” Hides said. “It is going to be a grind. But the Cubs have the depth to deal with it.”

The Nationals are slated to begin a three-game series Friday in Atlanta. Ace Max Scherzer (17-6, 2.31) is scheduled to start for Washington against right-hander Kevin Gausman (9-10, 3.89). Gausman formerly pitched for the Orioles.

The Cubs begin a series Friday night at home with the Reds. The game originally was scheduled to be a day game, but was pushed back to aid the Cubs unique travel criteria.

NOTES: The Nationals are raising support to aid assistant general manager Doug Harris, who is battling leukemia. Harris pitched at James Madison University in the 1980s and is a former Orioles minor leaguer. Washington pitcher Erick Fedde tweeted: “Hey everybody! We are holding a live auction to help raise money for our Nationals family member Doug Harris and his fight with cancer! You can bid on amazing items from all our players including my game used cleats and bat! Check it out! (link: http://nationals.com/beatcancer) nationals.com/beatcancer.” ... Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo wore his uniform on the flight Wednesday night from Chicago.