After splitting four games in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park in late June, and the first two of three in Chicago’s Wrigley Field this weekend, the Nationals and the defending World Series champion Cubs, who look like they could meet up again in the NLDS, have one more regular season game to decide the season series.
The Nationals took the series opener with the Cubbies on Friday afternoon, behind a solid start by Tanner Roark and some timely homers by Daniel Murphy, but dropped the second of three in the so-called “friendly confines” yesterday, with the NL Central-leading Cubs connecting for two big, two-run home runs, one each Alex Avila and Willson Contreras.
Dusty Baker’s Nationals had opportunities to get back into Saturday’s matchup, getting within one before Contreras’s blast, and bringing the potential tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings.
Justin Wilson gave up a run in the ninth that got the Nationals within three, 7-4, but the lefty got out of the inning, and Cubs’ closer Wade Davis worked around back-to-back, one-out walks and got Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper swinging to end the game.
“We had action in the eighth and ninth, and they wiggled out of it,” Baker said.
“I just always believed that we had a chance to come back, especially got the tying run at the plate and the winning run on deck with [Ryan Zimmerman], and then we were just hoping to get it down to [Daniel Murphy] and [Anthony] Rendon, that means we had a lot of action. [Davis] had a hard time finding the plate and we just [came] up short.”
“We were slow-walking them and we had it down to one run in the middle innings,” Baker continued, “and so we thought we had a great chance of snatching that game away from them, but their bullpen held on, and that was a big two-run homer that Contreras got, that turned a one-run game into a three-run game.
“That was kind of the gist of the ballgame.”
Now the current NL East and Central division leaders meet up one more time in the rubber match in Wrigley to decide the season series.
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE SERIES FINALE WITH THE CUBS:
#Nats at #Cubs 3 of 3: Goodwin CF, Kendrick LF, Harper RF, Zimmerman 1B, Murphy 2B, Rendon 3B, Wieters C, Difo SS, Fedde P— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) August 6, 2017