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Washington Nationals fall to Chicago Cubs, 5-4, despite ninth inning rally

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The Nationals scored four runs in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Cubs.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals opened the much anticipated series against the Chicago Cubs with a 5-4 loss on Monday evening.

The Nationals got off on the wrong track when Gio Gonzalez allowed a leadoff home run to Cubs’ catcher Wilson Contreras in the first inning.

It was a pitchers’ duel between Gonzalez and Cubs’ pitcher Eddie Butler after that, as both pitchers didn’t allow their opponents to do much offensively.

Gonzalez, who suffered his second loss of the season, pitched six solid innings and gave up a run on two hits, five walks and tallied eight strikeouts.

Gonzalez tallied his 1,500th career strikeout in the first inning. Butler gave up no runs on four hits in five innings of work.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning after a RBI bunt single by Albert Almora, Jr.

Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ each hit an RBI single in the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 4-0 advantage. Second baseman Javier Baez, who struck out three times, belted an RBI double to right-center, which extended the Cubs’ lead to 5-0.

The Nationals didn’t walk away without a fight. Catcher Matt Wieters drove in Daniel Murphy on a one-out single. Stephen Drew hit a RBI double to cut the deficit to 5-3. Bryce Harper singled then Wilmer Difo scored after Cubs’ closer Wade Davis threw a wild pitch.

The Nationals had the bases loaded with two outs and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate.

Davis got Zimmerman to strike out swinging to end the game. Zimmerman went 0-5 at the plate.

Nationals are now 45-31.

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Contreras blasted a leadoff home run to left field that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Gonzalez struck out Ian Happ for his 1,500 strikeout.
  • THERE GOES THE NO-HITTER! Harper hit a two-out single to left. Zimmerman grounded out to third base to end the inning.
  • Gonzalez recorded two strikeouts and walked a batter in the second inning.
  • Rendon and Taylor singled to put runners on first and second with two outs. Gonzalez struck out to end the second inning.
  • Mark Zagunis walked and advance to second on a sacrifice bunt by Contreras. Rizzo grounded out and Bryant popped out in the infield. Cubs still lead 1-0.
  • Turner hit a infield single before being picked off by Contreras.
  • Gonzalez struck out Baez then Jeimer Candelario hit a two-out double to right field.
  • Zimmerman reached first base on an error by Rizzo. Murphy grounded into a force out. Butler retired Rendon and Wieters to keep the Nationals off the scoreboard.
  • Gonzalez struck out Contreras for his fifth strikeout of the night. He walked Rizzo with two outs in the fifth.
  • Gonzalez threw a 3-2 changeup to strikeout Bryant.
  • Gonzalez recorded his seventh strikeout of the game after Baez went down swinging. Gonzalez got into some trouble when he hit Candelario with a pitch, then walked Almora Jr. Gonzalez threw a changeup away to strike out Addison Russell to end the sixth inning.
  • Carl Edwards Jr. came out of the bullpen for the Cubs.
  • Eddie Butler’s stat line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 SO, 8/2 GO/FO
  • Edwards struck out the side to keep the Cubs up 1-0 heading into the seventh inning.
  • Blake Treinen replaced Gonzalez in the seventh inning.
  • Gio Gonzalez’s line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 SO, 3/3 GO/FO
  • Cubs’ pitcher Pedro Strop allowed a single to Wieters and recorded two strikeouts. Cubs are still up as the game went into the eighth inning.
  • Baez hit a one-out single for his first hit of the game. Cubs had runners on first and second after a fielder’s choice by Candelario. Baez stole third to put runners on the corners.
  • Almora hit a bunt single to score Baez. The Cubs are up 2-0 with one out in the eighth inning. Enny Romero came into the game to get the Nationals out of trouble.
  • Brian Goodwin hit a single to give Harper a chance at the plate with two outs in eighth inning. Harper reached first on an infield single. Zimmerman grounded out to end the inning.
  • Rizzo belted a RBI single to left field in the ninth inning, which gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Rizzo reached second base thanks to a throwing error by Goodwin.
  • Wieters caught Rizzo stealing third base. Happ drove in Bryant with a single to right field. Cubs are up 4-0.
  • Nationals’ pitcher Matt Albers replaced Matt Grace and gave up a RBI double to Baez. Cubs took a 5-0 lead.
  • Murphy hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth inning. Wieters hit a RBI single to cut the deficit down to 5-1 with one out.
  • The Cubs went to their closer Wade Davis to try to seal the game.
  • Taylor hit a double to right-center that put runners on second and third. Stephen Drew cut the lead to 5-3 with a two run double. Davis threw a 3-2 pitch in the dirt to walk Turner.
  • Goodwin struck out, but Harper hit a single to load the bases with two outs.
  • Davis threw a wild pitch and Wilmer Difo scored. Nationals down 5-4.
  • Zimmerman struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Cubs win 5-4.

Nationals are now 45-31.