Wisdom's late homer not enough in loss to Nationals
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports

Wisdom's late homer not enough in loss to Nationals


by - Senior Writer -

WASHINGTON DC - For whatever reason, the Chicago Cubs (15-14) are having a difficult time finding a way to win close games, which doesn't bode well if you want to be a playoff team. After dropping three-straight one-run contests against the Miami Marlins over the weekend, the Cubs were locked into another tightly contested game when they took on the Washington Nationals (11-18) at Nationals Park.

Looking to get back on track after an up-and-down start to his season was the rookie right-hander Hayden Wesneski, who needs to start showing the Cubs something if he wants to hold onto that No. 5 job. Wesneski has gotten that memo and pitched very well on Tuesday to give the Cubs six innings of one-run, five-hit ball. Although he isn't striking out as many as he has, finishing with just two, he is starting to pitch more consistently, which is all you want to see.

Even with Wesneski doing his part on the mound, the Cubs offense was silenced, and an old friend in Trevor Williams silenced them. Let's be honest here. Williams is not a top-of-the-rotation type of arm and never has been, but he sure looked that way on Tuesday. Williams pitched into the sixth inning and scattered four hits with four strikeouts. Most importantly, he didn't allow a run, as the Cubs offense couldn't get anything going off of him.

With the game tied 1-1 in the later innings, it was time for David Ross to go with one of the strengths on this team, which is the Cub's multi-inning relief options. That includes Keegan Thompson, who has been dominant since moving to full-time reliever.

However, Thompson has not been himself this season and has struggled with his command since the start of the season. He then goes out to have the worst outing of his season as he allowed three runs on four hits in just 1/3 of an inning. That was the difference in the game as the Cubs fell to Washington 4-1.

No one expected Williams to handcuff the Cubs as much as he did, but to his credit, he found ways to be successful and thrived off those ways. Williams avoided trouble most of the night, but the second inning saw the Cubs have their best chance to score off of him, with Seiya Suzuki and Eric Hosmer picking up singles before coming away empty.

Wesneski, on the other hand, continues to try different things to get back on track, including pitching to more contact and fewer strikeouts. While that can work in some cases, it also makes you prone to hard contact, and the Nationals were getting plenty of hard contact early on, resulting in outs. Eventually, that hard contact would lead to a run, which was the case in the third inning.

CJ Abrams began the third inning with a well-struck single to right field to put the leadoff man on base. That was followed by a sacrifice bunt from Victor Robles, who wound up being safe at first after a mishandling from Hosmer. Wesneski nearly pitched out of that jam, but the Luis Garcia single gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead before a double play ended the inning without further damage.

That double play began a nice little run from Wesneski, who was settling in on the mound. However, the Nationals continued to keep the pressure on and had a chance to extend their lead in the fifth inning, with Abrams and Robles reaching base again on singles. This time, Wesneski buckled down and induced two straight groundouts to end the threat as the Cubs continued to trail 1-0.

As if facing one former Cub wasn't weird enough to see, why not make it two as Williams walked Ian Happ in the sixth before being lifted for Carl Edwards Jr. Nicknamed the String Bean Slinger for a reason, Edwards promptly allowed a Cody Bellinger double to put the Cubs in a great spot and then chose to intentionally walk Suzuki to load the bases. Needing to work some magic to get out of this jam, Edwards buckled down to strikeout Trey Mancini and then got Hosmer to ground out to keep the Nationals in front.

It took seven innings for the Cubs to break through, but leave it to Patrick Wisdom to provide the offense. With Mason Thompson on the mound, Wisdom didn't wait long and took his major-league-tying 11th homer over the fence to dead center to put the Cubs on the board 1-1.

This was the only run of the night for the Cubs, who went to their pen in the bottom of the seventh.

Considering the season Keegan Thompson has had out of the pen, you had to like his chances to at least keep things close for the time being with the hopes of the offense coming to life. Instead, you could see he didn't have it from the start, with Dominic Smith leading things off with a single before advancing to second on a Lane Thomas groundout.

A few pitches later, Abrams continued his massive night as his third hit gave the Nationals the lead for good, 2-1. That single was followed by another Robles single while Alex Call delivered the knockout blow with an RBI double to push the lead to 4-1. That was it for Thompson, who was lifted for Michael Rucker to finish things off, but the damage was done.

Now having to play catchup mode, Bellinger led off the eighth inning with a single as the Cubs offense needed baserunners. Mancini would add a walk later in the inning to bring the tying run to the plate, but Wisdom could not pull the trigger and was called out on strikes to end the threat.

That was the last opportunity for the Cubs and their offense as Dansby Swanson managed to pick up a ninth-inning single off of Kyle Finnegan to provide the Cub's final hit in a tough 4-1 loss.

Swanson, Bellinger, and Hosmer had great nights at the plate, picking up six of the team's eight hits. Unfortunately, Nico Hoerner saw his 27-game on-base streak end as he went 0-5 in the game.

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