Washington went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position and seven runners left on base in last night's one-run loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker lamented some missed opportunities after the game, after the Nats rallied to tie things up late in the second game of three with the Cubs in D.C. only to fall behind a half-inning later.
The Nationals loaded the bases with two down in the fifth before Bryce Harper sent an inning-ending grounder to first base, then settled for sac flies in back-to-back innings after putting runners on second and third with no one out in the seventh and runners on first and third with one out in the eighth.
"Second and third and nobody out and bases loaded and we hit some balls on the nose," Baker said. "Bryce hit the ball hard."
Harper walked to start the eighth, took third on a single to right by Ryan Zimmerman (after Daniel Murphy lined out to center) and scored on Anthony Rendon's sac fly.
"Murphy hit the ball extremely hard. That's okay. I thought we played a good game and just came up on the short end," Baker said.
Washington's three-run sixth was the difference in the Nationals' win in the series opener with Chicago on Monday night.
The Cubs took advantage three straight hits in a rough third by Gio Gonzalez and leadoff and one-out walks from Gonzalez in the fourth to score three of the four runs they needed in their win in the second of three in D.C.
Sammy Solis issued a leadoff walk to Addison Russell in the top of the ninth after the Nationals rallied to tie it and the runner came around to score on an RBI double by Albert Almora, Jr. that ended up being the game-winning hit.
Baker told reporters after last night's loss that it was good preparation for things to come if the Nationals and Cubs stay atop their respective divisions.
"It's getting us ready. That's the way I look at it," Baker said. "So, they know they were in a ballgame and we'll come out tomorrow and win this rubber match.
"We've got [Stephen Strasburg] going tomorrow and I feel very confident about it and our guys don't like to lose."
Here's the lineup Baker is sending out for the series finale with the Cubs: