Jordan Zimmermann was in control through 5.0 IP tonight, and he entered the sixth with a 4-2 lead and the middle of the Cubs' order coming around for the third time. Derrek Lee, who'd K'd swinging through a 1-2 fastball in the first and hit into a force at home on a 1-1 bender in the third, came up in the sixth and hit a 2-2 curve over the wall in left on one hop for a leadoff ground rule double. Zimmermann got a ground ball up the middle from Aramis Ramirez, but Willie Harris caught a spike, or tripped, but anyway fell, and didn't come up with the ball. First and third, no outs, and the Nationals' rookie right-hander throws an 0-2 fastball by Milton Bradley, who K's for the third time and snaps his bat over his knee as he heads in to sit down. First and third and one out, and Alfonso Soriano steps to the plate...the same Soriano who'd watched an 0-2 curve drop in up high for strike three in the first and swung a foot over a low bender in the fourth, Soriano steps to the plate in the sixth and launches a first-pitch-slider outside to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for a three-run blast. 5-4 Cubbies after soriANO!!'s 15th. Jason Bergmann gives up a two-out HR to Mike Fontenot in the eighth, when Jim Riggleman ignores Federal Baseball.com's advice and brings Bergmann back out for a second inning work, and it ends up being the winning run when the Nationals rally for one in the eighth but fall short for the 64th time in 90 games, losing 6-5 and dropping the third straight to the Cubs.
• Bases Loaded Failure.
• Nyjer Morgan = Rizzo (1-0).
For The Completists, Full Game Report After The JUMP...
Nationals now 26-64. (Countdown To 100 Losses Begins At 70. Countdown To History At 110.)
• Bases Loaded Failure.
Willie Harris hit a fly ball to center in the third with two on and no outs on a 1-1 pitch from Chicago starter Randy Wells, who'd walked the leadoff batter, Adam Dunn, and hit Josh Willingham in the two previous at bats. Alberto Gonzalez and Wil Nieves followed with groundouts and a two on, no out chance had been wasted...It would have been a good time to respond too, after the Cubs had cut DC's 4-0 lead in half in the top of the frame...In the fourth, Nick Johnson hit a two-out single in front of Ryan Zimmerman, and then got picked off of first by the Cubs' catcher Koyie Hill whose throw ended any hope of a two-out rally...
And then there was the seventh...Cubs' lefty Sean Marshall put two on with one out and was replaced by Chicago right-hander Carlos Marmol. Marmol hit Willingham to load the bases, and Willie Harris, swinging at a 2-0 fastball, hit a weak grounder to first for Carlos Lee, who threw home to cut down the lead runner for the second out. Alberto Gonzalez followed with an inning-ending grounder and a bases loaded one-out chance was wasted in what ends up a one-run loss.
With the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, Ryan Zimmerman hit a sac fly to make it 6-5 Chicago after Mike Fontenot's HR made it 6-4 Cubs in the top of the frame. Zimmerman's flyout was deep enough for Nyjer Morgan to go from second to third as well, and Adam Dunn followed with a walk to once again load the bases. Josh Willingham stepped in against the Cubs' closer Kevin Gregg, and battled for eight pitches before grounding out to third allowing Aramis Ramirez to simply step on the bag...
• Nyjer Morgan = Rizzo (1-0).
Since joining the Washington Nationals, Nyjer Morgan, (3 for 5 tonight with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored) is hitting .357 in 14 games and 56 at bats, collecting 4 doubles, 3 RBI's and 8 steals while posting a .383 OBP, .429 SLG and committing 0 ERRORS IN 13 games in center, finally providing Washington with the outfielder they've been looking for since they moved to DC in 2005. Lastings Milledge, still "proving himself" in Pittsburgh's system, is 13 for 25 in 15 games at Triple-A Indianapolis and seems due for a call up to Pittsburgh, and he might eventually become the outfielder he was projected to be when the Mets made him their 1st Round pick back in 2003, but he wasn't ready when the Nationals handed him the job, and his attitude alienated the second of two teams he's played for thus far. Joel Hanrahan's given up 6 hits and 3 ER in 3.2 IP for the Pirates so far, while Sean Burnett's allowed just 1 run on 3 hits in 7.1 IP...(Advantage: Rizzo - While reserving the right to alter my opinion later, after I see the McCutchen/Milledge OF...)
Kosuke Fukudome grounds out to short and Alberto Gonzalez rainbows a sidearm throw to NIck Johnson at first to start the ninetieth game of 2009. Jordan Zimmermann hits the outside corner with an 0-2 pitch that jumps back into the zone late. Derrek Lee swings through a two-strike fastball outside for a quick 1-2-3 first by the Nationals' rookie right-hander...Nyjer Morgan slices a double down the left field line and gives Nick Johnson a RISP to work with. Nick Johnson hits a trademark single over short, NJ™, Morgan takes third and stops there when Alfonso Soriano fields it. Ryan Zimmerman flies out to deep center, Fukudome makes the grab, and gives up the run, Morgan scores, 1-0 DC. Nick Johnson breaks for second on a ball in the dirt from Cubs’ starter Randy Wells. Adam Dunn goes the other way with a gapper to left center, Nick Johnson scores, 2-0 DC. Josh Willingham flies to Fukudome in front of the out-of-town scoreboard. Willie Harris flies to Alfonso Soriano to end the first.
Aramis Ramirez takes an 0-2 pitch back up the middle for a leadoff single in Chicago’s second. Milton Bradley stares strike three all the way in on a 95 mph fastball outside. Alfonso Soriano watches an 0-2 curve drop in for a strike and he stares for a minute as if mad at the pitcher. Adam Dunn makes his way into the gap and closes his glove on a short fly from Mike Fontenot...Ryan Theriot throws out Alberto Gonzalez. Wil Nieves goes the other way with a one-out single to right. Jordan Zimmermann gets down a sac bunt to move Nieves to second. Nyjer Morgan lines to center, Nieves scores easily ahead of Fukudome’s throw, and Morgan takes second easily on the ill-advised throw home. 3-0 DC. Nick Johnson hits a sinker on the outside edge for a trademark single up the middle to score Morgan from second. 4-0 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman flies out to center to end the second.
Koyie Hill takes a first pitch fastball to the warning track in left for a leadoff single. Randy Wells gets a sac bunt down to move Hill to third. Zimmermann issues a one-out walk to Kosuke Fukudome to set up the DP. Ryan Theriot works the count full and triples to the right-center gap, off the out-of-town scoreboard to score two runs and make it 4-2 DC. Derrek Lee rolls a grounder to third and Zimmerman charges in and throws home to get Theriot at the plate. Aramis Ramirez grounds into a force at second to end the top of the third...Adam Dunn takes a leadoff walk on four straight outside the zone. Josh Willingham takes one for the team and gives Willie Harris a shot with two on. Long fly ball to center moves Dunn to third. Adam Dunn breaks home on a ground ball to short, and gets caught in a rundown when Theriot throws home. Wil Nieves grounds out to second to end the threat.
Milton Bradley gets a rising fastball on a 2-2 count and K’s swinging. Alfonso Soriano saw it last time, but he’s still not ready for the two-strike curve, soriANO K’s swinging at a bender in the dirt. Mike Fontenot slices a short fly to third, Zimmerman makes the catch...Jordan Zimmerman lines out to second. Nyjer Morgan flies out to Fukudome. Nick Johnson lines another trademark single to right center with two down. Ryan Zimmerman up, and Johnson gets picked off first by the catcher Koyie Hill.
Koyie Hill K’s chasing a 94 mph fastball out of the zone. Alberto Gonzalez fields a grounder behind second and spins and throws in time to get the opposing pitcher. Kosuke Fukudome singles to left on a 3-2 fastball. Ryan Theriot flies out to Willingham in right and it’s 4-2 DC after the top of the fifth...Ryan Zimmerman lines out to Aramis Ramirez at third. Adam Dunn tips strike three into Koyie Hill’s glove. Willingham grounds to short and Theriot’s throw ends the inning.
Derrek Lee waits on a 2-2 curve and lines it to left and into the stands on a hop. Leadoff double. Zimmermann comes inside with a fastball to Ramirez that’s hit up the middle to Willie Harris who falls as he fields it and fails to make the play. Jordan Zimmermann blows Milton Bradley away with a heater that has an irate Bradley snapping his bat over his knee. Alfonso soriANO!! Takes a slider deep to right center and GONE! 3-run blast, 5-4 Cubbies. Sean Burnett comes on for Zimmermann, and gives up a leadoff single to Mike Fontenot. Koyie Hill grounds into a force at second. Nick Johnson dives for a grounder from pinch hitter Jeff Baker...Angel Guzman takes over on the mound for Chicago...Willie Harris works the count full and flies out to left. Alberto Gonzalez flies to right. Wll Nieves gets a line drive past Alfonso Soriano in left and takes second on the error/clean miss. Austin Kearns works the count full and walks to chase Angel Guzman. Nyjer Morgan steps in against lefty Sean Marshall. Morgan grounds out to second to end the sixth.
Jason Bergmann starts the seventh by giving up a leadoff triple to Kosuke Fukudome. Alberto Gonzalez looks Fukudome back to third and throws to first on Ryan Theriot’s groundout. Derrek Lee swings through a 1-2 fastball. Aramis Ramirez flies out to right-center and Bergmann strands the triple...Nick Johnson grounds out to short. Ryan Zimmerman sneaks a single in in front of Fukudome. Adam Dunn walks to chase Sean Marshall. Carlos Marmol on to face Willingham. Hammer gets hit. Willie Harris grounds to first, Carlos Lee takes the force at home. Alberto Gonzalez grounds to third, Ramirez takes the force.
Bergmann back out for the eighth, and he gives up a leadoff single to Milton Bradley. Bergmann gets Soriano swinging and Wil Nieves nails Bradley trying to steal second. Strike’em out, throw’em out. Mike Fontenot takes Bergmann deeeeep to right and gone, 6-4 Cubs. Koyie Hill drills a single to center. PInch hitter Sam Fuld flies out to Wilingham in right to end the Cubs’ eighth...Aaron Heilman on for Chicago. Wil Nieves lines out to D. Lee at first. Ronnie Belliard hits for Bergmann and walks with one down. Nyjer Morgan singles again, slicing one to center, Belliard takes third. Nick Johnson uses his Discerning Eye™ to draw a two-out walk. Ryan Zimmerman brings in a run with a sac fly to right, Belliard scores, Morgan to third, 6-5 Cubs. Adam Dunn takes a two-out walk to load the bases for The Hammer. Willingham hits a sharp grounder to third, Aramis Ramirez bounces the throw but D. Lee picks it.
Joe Beimel vs Fukudome to start the ninth. Fukudome grounds out to second. Ryan Zimmerman makes a diving stab and throw to first to get Ryan Theriot. D. Lee grounds out to short to end the top of the frame...Sam Fuld catches the first out of the ninth off Willie Harris’ bat. Ryan Theriot gets under a foul pop from Alberto Gonzalez. Wil Nieves grounds out to short and the Cubs will look to sweep tomorrow.
Cubs win, 6-5 final.