Bote comes up big with walk-off grand slam as Cubs stun Nationals

by - Senior Writer -
David Bote's third career home run was arguably the biggest hit of his life. (Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
David Bote's third career home run was arguably the biggest hit of his life. (Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

CHICAGO — Three and a half months ago, rookie third baseman David Bote was merely a feel-good story for the Chicago Cubs. Getting the chance to make his Major-League debut in his home state against the Colorado Rockies, Bote collected what was then the biggest hit of his life with a double in front of his family. Three and a half months later, he topped that double with the hit of a lifetime.

Clubbing a walk-off, pinch-hit grand slam, Bote produced the ultimate baseball memory to lift the Cubs over the visiting Washington Nationals to close out a three-game series. Despite struggling at the plate for the vast majority of the game, particularly with Nats ace Max Scherzer on the mound, the Cubs came alive when it mattered most. Rallying against Washington reliever Ryan Madson in the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs overcame a 3-0 deficit and won 4-3 on a home run that brought with it a deafening roar at Wrigley Field.

With the exception of the ninth inning, in which the two clubs combined for six runs, offense certainly was not much of a factor in the battle of veteran workhorses Scherzer and Cole Hamels. Making his home debut with the Cubs, Hamels dominated in seven innings of work, giving up just one run on one hit and one walk and striking out nine.

Unfortunately for Hamels, he was overshadowed by Scherzer, who fanned 11 and pitched seven scoreless innings. On-field microphones picked up Scherzer's trademark grunting throughout his start, with the right-hander throwing heat from start to finish. The Nationals provided Scherzer with one run of support by going up 1-0 against Hamels in the second. A leadoff walk of Ryan Zimmerman was followed by a single off the bat of Daniel Murphy to advance Zimmerman to third. Zimmerman then scored on a sacrifice fly by Mark Reynolds.

After going up 1-0, Washington went cold at the plate until they tagged former Nationals pitcher Brandon Kintzler for two runs in the ninth. The Cubs, meanwhile, came up with a couple of decent scoring chances against Scherzer, but the Cy Young candidate was able to escape each time. The Nationals later put themselves in great position to take the game and the series from the Cubs by scoring two runs in the ninth.

With one out in the top half of the final inning, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber misplayed a hit down the line from Trea Turner, which led to a one-out triple. Kintzler then issued two straight walks, including an intentional walk of power hitter Bryce Harper. After that, Kintzler gave up a two-run single up the middle, which was hit by Zimmerman. Justin Wilson replaced Kintzler on the mound thereafter and got out of the inning without allowing the Cubs to suffer further damage.

In the bottom half of the ninth, Madson experienced a plight similar to the one that Kintzler experienced, except he was not pulled at any point, which cost the Nationals the game. With one out, Jason Heyward beat out a dribbler for an infield single. Madson then hit Albert Almora, Jr., with a pitch, which was followed by a popup from Schwarber.

Down to their final out, the Cubs caught a break when Madson hit another batter by plunking Willson Contreras on a 2-2 count. Bote, serving as the winning run, next stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter, and he produced when faced with two strikes by crushing a 442-foot no-doubter to straightaway center field for a walk-off grand slam, which marked the first walk-off grand slam hit by a Cub down to his final strike since 1963.

Making the most of his pinch-hitting appearance, Bote jacked his third career home run on what assuredly marked the most memorable hit of his baseball life up to that point. Coming back from a three-run deficit, the Cubs made the most of Madson's meltdown. Despite garnering just six hits and one walk all night, the Cubs, who are now 68-49, avoided losing their series with the Nationals, who dropped to 60-58, with a 4-3 triumph in the rubber match. Wilson moved to 4-3 with the win, and Madson received the loss to make him 2-5.

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