Baez injured as Cubs stave off Nats, take series

by - Senior Writer -
The Cubs totaled nine hits in the win, including two by Jason Heyward. (Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cubs totaled nine hits in the win, including two by Jason Heyward. (Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — By holding off the Washington Nationals (19-27) and eking out a 6-5 win, the Chicago Cubs (27-17) claimed a series victory by taking two of three at Nationals Park over the weekend. Sunday's 6-5 win saw the Cubs boast a commanding 6-1 lead midway through the sixth inning, before the Nationals mounted an admirable comeback attempt. Ultimately, the Cubs were able to stave the Nationals off just well enough to be able to exit the nation's capital triumphantly.

The Cubs experienced an auspicious start to the contest, as Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson walked the first three batters in the top of the first. However, a fielder's choice groundout by Javier Baez with the bases loaded provided Chicago with its lone run of the inning. Despite experiencing their fair share of success at the plate, the Cubs were a woeful 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men stranded. With that being said, the Cubs were able to consistently build up their lead by pushing a run across in each of the first four innings.

In the second frame, Jason Heyward led off with a single for the Cubs, which was followed by an Albert Almora Jr. double. Almora went 3-for-3 with one walk in his solid offensive performance. Heyward scored thereafter on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Schwarber to put the Cubs up 2-0. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who recently returned from a short injury layoff, proved that he is feeling fine with one swing of the bat, as he kicked off the top of the third with a leadoff solo shot. Rizzo's 11th homer of the year traveled 385 feet over the left-field wall. Almora tallied another double in the next inning, and Schwarber brought him home via his second sacrifice fly.

Leading 4-0 at that point, the Cubs were in total control behind a great start by pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who worked a no-hitter through four innings. Hendricks gave up a couple of hits early on in the bottom of the fifth, and a Brian Dozier groundout scored Kurt Suzuki to make it 4-1. The Cubs responded by pushing two runs across in the top of the sixth. After Heyward notched a leadoff single, he took second and third on a pair of wild pitches. Soon afterward, Hendricks laid down a nicely executed sacrifice bunt that enabled Heyward to score, and, a few at-bats later, Kris Bryant put the Cubs ahead 6-1 with an RBI single that resulted in Almora crossing the plate.

During the top of the fourth, Baez went all out at shortstop in order to throw Hellickson out on a softly hit dribbler, but, in doing so, he twisted his ankle. Baez was able to remain in the game for a little while longer, but he was replaced to start the bottom of the sixth by former starting shortstop Addison Russell, who has been playing at second base for the Cubs since returning from his suspension. The substitution indirectly led to Hendricks coming undone on the mound, as Russell committed an egregious throwing error that enabled the Nationals to have runners on second and third with one out in the sixth.

A mound visit took place not long after Russell's mistake, but Hendricks stayed on the bump. The right-hander was unable to regain his dominance, though, as Anthony Rendon skied a 398-foot 3-run homer to right-center that decreased the Cubs' lead to two. Hendricks then gave up two additional hits in the inning before being pulled. He went on to earn the winning decision, despite the disastrous ending to his otherwise solid outing.

Former Nationals reliever Brandon Kintzler collected a critical out for the Cubs after replacing Hendricks, but he was not so fortunate when he was taken deep by Howie Kendricks to start the bottom half of the seventh. Nevertheless, the Nationals failed to advance a man into scoring position the rest of the way, with Cubs reliever Steve Cishek sitting the Nats down in order in the ninth to finish off the 6-5 Cubs win.

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals
May 19, 2019 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago (27-17) 1 1 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 6 9 1
Washington (19-27) 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 0 5 9 1
W: Kyle Hendricks (4-4) L: Jeremy Hellickson (2-3) S: Steve Cishek (4)

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