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Ian Desmond's ninth inning error hurts Nationals in 3-2 loss to Cubs

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Ian Desmond made an error on an ill-advised throw while trying to turn a double play in the ninth inning on Tuesday night and the Washington Nationals lost the game in the next at bat when Chicago Cubs' second baseman Addison Russell hit a walk-off double.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chris Coghlan, after a single to center off left-hander Matt Grace, stood at first base with one down and the score tied at 2-2 in the Chicago Cubs' half of the ninth inning on Tuesday night in Wrigley Field.

Cubs' pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera sent a slow chopper to second base in the next at bat.

"I think he's trying to make a play out of something that he can't make a play out of. Ball's not hit hard enough to turn two there..." -Matt Williams on Ian Desmond's ninth inning error

Washington Nationals' second baseman Danny Espinosa fielded it cleanly and tossed to second for the force, but Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond made an ill-advised attempt to turn a double play.

Coghlan slid in hard and wide of second, forcing Desmond to leave his feet as he cleared the base and threw to first, and he sent the throw well wide of the bag and into the dugout allowing Herrera to advance into scoring position at second.

Addison Russell stepped in next and lined a walk-off double to the right of center to bring Herrera in for a 3-2 win over the NL East's first place Nationals.

Asked about the decision to make the throw after the loss to the Cubs, Desmond told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, that you, "... have to take a chance every once in awhile."

"Unfortunately," Desmond said, "this time it didn't pay off."

"I think he's trying to make a play out of something that he can't make a play out of," Matt Williams told reporters.

"Ball's not hit hard enough to turn two there, and he tried to transfer it quickly and throw it and just threw it wide."

With the runner on second instead of first, Williams explained, the Nationals' outfielders couldn't play deep, making it even harder for Denard Span when he had to try to track down Russell's liner to center.

"With the wind we've got to play no doubles there with a man on first but with a man on second, a base hit," Williams said, "if we play too deep then we've got no chance to throw him out anyway, so he's got to play regular depth."

According to Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon, Coghlan deserved at least some of the credit for forcing Desmond to try to make a difficult play.

"Chris Coghlan's slide into second base right there is vital," Maddon said, noting that playing the game properly for nine innings is the key to beating good teams.

As the Cubs' young, talented players learn, he said, they'll cut down on the mistakes, learn which pitches to swing at and which to take and "we're not going to make routine errors by trying to turn a double play when only one out is possible."

He didn't refer directly to Desmond's error while making the comments, but he might as well have, and it was good advice.