Washington broke a six-game losing streak against Chicago with last night's 4-1 win and the Nationals improved to 40-24 overall on the year, giving them the second-best record in the majors, behind only the 43-19 Cubs.
The win was the Nationals' fourth straight overall, their seventh in the last eight and eleventh in their last fourteen.
Tonight in the nation's capital, the Cubs evened the series up with a 4-3 win and improved to 5-1 overall against the Nationals on the year.
Gio Gonzalez, who had a 5.82 ERA and a .289/.333/.472 line against in six starts and 34 inning pitched since he last faced the Cubs in Chicago in May, giving up seven hits and five runs in 5 ⅔ IP in Wrigley Field, started the night on a four-start losing streak.
John Lackey, who struck out 11 in seven innings, allowing just two earned runs when he faced the Nationals in the North Side of Chicago in that series, was (3-1) in six starts since, with a 1.30 ERA and a .168/.228/.255 line against over 41 ⅔.
Gonzalez cracked first tonight, giving up back-to-back-to-back, two-out hits by John Lackey, Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward, respectively, in the third, with Heyward's hit driving in the first two runs of the game, 2-0 Cubs.
Lackey found himself in trouble in the bottom of the third, however, when Nationals' shortstop Danny Espinosa bunted his way on, Gonzalez took a pitch off the wrist and Ben Revere singled to left field, loading them up in front of Jayson Werth, who sent a sac fly to right to make it a 2-1 game.
Leadoff and one-out walks and a stolen base put runners on the corners for the Cubs in the fourth, and David Ross hit an RBI single to center to give Chicago back its two-run lead, 3-1.
Nats' slugger Bryce Harper got a shot to tie it up or at least do some damage with two on and two out in the Nationals' half of the fifth, but grounded out to first, leaving the Nationals 1 for 4 with runners in scoring position to that point.
Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.1 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 9 Ks, 111 P, 66 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Danny Espinosa took a fastball off the leg and Jose Lobaton hit a double by first to set the Nationals up with another opportunity in the seventh.
Pedro Strop came on to face pinch hitter Wilson Ramos, who stepped in with runners on second and third and no one out, and struck him out, but Ben Revere sent a sac fly to left to get the Nats within one, 3-2.
John Lackey's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 98 P, 64 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
Sammy Solis tossed a scoreless, 11-pitch eighth for the Nationals. Travis Wood walked Bryce Harper in the first at bat of the Nationals' half of the eighth, but retired Daniel Murphy before Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon went to the pen again.
Hector Rondon came on to face Ryan Zimmerman with one on and one out and gave up an opposite field single to right that sent Harper around to third.
Anthony Rendon worked the count full in the next at bat and sent a fly to right to tie it up at 3-3.
Solis came back out for the ninth and issued leadoff walk to Addison Russell and an RBI double to center by by Albert Almora, Jr. put the Cubs back on top, 4-3.
Rondon came back out for another inning of work in the ninth and retired the Nationals in order. 4-3 final.
Nationals now 40-25
- Last night's win was the Washington Nationals' fourth straight, their seventh in the last eight and their 11th in their last 14 games overall. It also snapped a six-game losing streak against the Chicago Cubs.
- After last night's loss, the Cubs still had wins in 14 of their last 19 and the best record in baseball.
- Heading into play today, the Nationals (40-24) had the second-best record in the majors, behind only the Cubs (43-19).
- Washington's 40-24 record through 64 games is the best record through 64 in franchise history (2005-present) and matches the all-time franchise record set by the 1979 and '94 Montreal Expos.
- Chicago's 43-19 start is the franchise's best since they went 44-18 in 1918.
- The Nationals started the second game of three with the Cubs in D.C. leading the NL in home runs with (87) as a team.
- Washington's pitchers started tonight's game with the major league lead in strikeouts (616) and K/9 (9.60 K/9). They were also 3rd in the majors in ERA as a group (3.19).
- Gio Gonzalez started the night with a (2-1) record and a 0.64 ERA against the Cubs in the nation's capital.
- John Lackey was (4-1) in May with a 1.59 ERA over 56 ⅔ IP.
- Cubs' starter as a groupe had allowed three runs or fewer in 17-straight games heading into tonight's matchup.
- Daniel Murphy started the night with an MLB-leading .367 AVG on the year and an NL-best 28 multi-hit games so far this season.
- Wilson Ramos hit a solo home to right last night, his 10th of the season, giving him four straight seasons with 10+ home runs.
Nationals now 40-25