Cubs waste opportunities, endure frustrating loss to Nationals
Epitomized by Ian Happ's ejection, the Chicago Cubs endured a frustrating afternoon at Wrigley Field. (Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Cubs waste opportunities, endure frustrating loss to Nationals

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO — Wasted opportunities defined the loss suffered by the Chicago Cubs (69-60) at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon. Experiencing several deflating innings at the plate and getting taken to task by the small ball put together by the Washington Nationals (72-57), the Cubs dropped their second straight game against the Nationals, thus assuring them of a series loss in the 3-game set. Although the Nationals went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men stranded on base, they did just enough to win quite comfortably, as the Cubs fell 7-2.

Infield hits and defensive gaffes frequented the early goings, with several infield singles and three total errors taking place in the first two innings alone. A throwing error committed by Cubs first baseman Anthony in the first inning on a bunt single led to the Nationals plating the opening run on a sacrifice fly on the next play. The Cubs grounded into two double plays in the first two frames to prevent potential runs from coming to fruition. That led to the Nats plating four runs on four hits in the top of the third.

Jose Quintana, who has been masterful as of late, started on the mound for the Cubs and saw his recent string of success come to an end. Quintana was taken for four runs on seven hits in four innings of work, and he imploded in the third frame. After the Nationals loaded the bases with zero outs, Juan Soto brought home a run with a fielder's choice. Howie Kendrick followed that up with an RBI single, and, later in the inning, Yan Gomes put Washington ahead by a score of 5-0 with a 2-out RBI base knock.

A leadoff single by catcher Victor Caratini culminated in the Cubs getting on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, as right fielder Nicholas Castellanos plated Caratini with a 2-out single to left-center. Joe Ross started on the bump for the Nationals and gave up two runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Chicago loaded the bases off Ross in the bottom of the fourth, partially because of a ground-rule double hit by shortstop Javier Baez, but pinch hitter Ian Happ struck out looking to leave all three runners stranded. Happ was very unhappy with the strike-three call, which came on a pitch that was a bit outside, and was ejected for arguing it.

Another ground-rule double from the Cubs chased Ross from the game in the fifth, as catcher Jonathan Lucroy entered the contest and drove home a run with a ground-rule double to deep left that enabled Castellanos to cross the plate. Lucroy entered as a pinch hitter for Rizzo, who was removed from the game midway through the fifth inning due to mid-back tightness. Lucroy was initially credited with a caught stealing in the sixth, but a Nationals challenge overturned the call at third base. That led to an RBI groundout putting the Nationals up by four runs.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Cubs drew back-to-back 2-out walks, with the first one being drawn by relief pitcher Kyle Ryan. Ryan wound up being thrown out to end the inning, though, as he attempted to take third base after a pitch got away from the catcher. Deflating endings to innings made up the theme of the afternoon for the Cubs. For example, after Lucroy's ground-rule double in the fifth, Baez swung at several bad pitches in his at-bat, which resulted in a strikeout, and Schwarber popped up on the infield, thereby stranding two runners in scoring position.

The Cubs did not present much of a threat the plate late in the ballgame, with the North Siders mustering just one hit in the final three innings. Meanwhile, the Nationals took a 7-2 lead when Kendrick tallied an RBI double off Cubs reliever Pedro Strop in the top of the ninth. Cubs center fielder Jason Heyward smacked a double off the wall in the bottom of the ninth, but Castellanos struck out in the next plate appearance to end the game. With the 7-2 defeat in the books, the Cubs need to win on Sunday to avoid being swept at home.

Washington Nationals at Chicago Cubs
Aug 24, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Washington (72-57) 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 1 7 9 1
Chicago (69-60) 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 2
W: Wander Suero (4-7) L: Jose Quintana (11-8)

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