Jun 5, 2015, 12:14 AM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After a delay of nearly two hours due to heavy and persistent rain, the Nationals’ offense squandered a solid outing by Gio Gonzalez as Washington fell 2-1 to the Chicago Cubs, their sixth loss in seven games.
Gonzalez overcame a two-run first inning that could have been much worse to put in one of his best outings overall of the 2015 season. But the Nationals’ lineup failed to give him much of any help, despite the long-awaited return of franchise cornerstone Anthony Rendon.
Rendon himself was excellent considering the long layoff. He singled in his first at-bat after first going down 0-2 and then working a full count against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Rendon also doubled in his third at-bat to continue a Nats rally that gave them their only run of the evening.
The Nationals put together a one-out rally in the bottom of the ninth with a Michael Taylor single and a Clint Robinson walk. Their hopes were dashed quickly, though, as Robinson was picked off at first by Cubs catcher David Ross for the final out.
With the loss the Nationals fell to 29-25 on the season. They have lost three straight games and seven of their last nine overall.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: The Nationals finally got something going in the bottom of the sixth after 18 straight innings without a run, a streak that dated back to Tuesday’s doubleheader. It was just one run and it was aided generously by Arrieta, who lost control after five dominant frames.
Span got them started with a one-out single and he went to third on a double by Rendon. Rendon lofted a line drive to right field that was misplayed by Junior Lake. Danny Espinosa was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
That brought up Bryce Harper, who drove in a run on a groundout to Castro at shortstop. Harper appeared to beat the throw to first, but the Nationals had already used their replay challenge on the third out of the fourth inning.
Ryan Zimmerman would also get hit by an Arrieta pitch in the next at-bat, but Ian Desmond lined out to right field to end the inning. The Nationals got four baserunners – and arguably should have had five – but only one run was the final result.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Gonzalez recovered to piece together a strong outing of six frames of two-run ball after a rough first inning. Dexter Fowler led off with a single to right field before Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo singled to load the bases. Gonzalez then walked Lake to score a run, one of the four free passes Gio issued on the evening. Another run came home one batter later as Starlin Castro grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Gonzalez needed a whopping 32 pitches to get out of the first inning alone.
But Gio was able to settle in after that and became much more efficient as the night went on. His final line was: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, WP on 103 pitches (66 strikes).
All in all, it was certainly enough to give the Nationals a chance to win but their offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
KEY STAT: The Nationals have averaged just 2.36 runs in their last 14 games.
UP NEXT: The Cubs and Nationals continue their series with a 7:05 p.m. start on Friday night. Tanner Roark (1-2, 2.59) will square off with right-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 2.30).
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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