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Washington Nationals drop series opener to Chicago Cubs in disappointing fashion, 3-2 final in Wrigley...

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Jeremy Hellickson didn’t give up a hit this afternoon in Wrigley Field, over 5 2⁄3 IP, but he issued three straight walks to the final three batters he faced, setting the Cubs up to tie it at 2-2 before they took the lead an inning later.

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jeremy Hellickson didn’t allow a hit, but he issued four walks total this afternoon, one to the first batter he faced, then three straight to the final three Chicago Cubs he saw in the home-half of the sixth, as he loaded the bases with two outs (after retiring 17-straight), forcing the hand of Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez, who went to the bullpen in spite of the fact that Hellickson had a no-hitter going.

Martinez went to the bullpen, for left-hander Sammy Solis, trying to protect a 2-0 lead, but the next batter, Jason Heyward, lined a game-tying, two-run single through the right side of the infield, tying it up at 2-2.

New Nats’ reliever Greg Holland gave up the go-ahead run in the seventh, allowing back-to-back, one-out singles, and giving up a bases-loaded walk to Anthony Rizzo that forced in a runner, 3-2 Cubbies.

Hellboy in Wrigley: Coming off a win over the Cincinnati Reds in which he gave up four hits and two runs (both of them on solo home runs) in 5 23 innings on the mound in the nation’s capital, Jeremy Hellickson got the start in this afternoon’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs.

In three outings after the All-Star Break before today, the 31-year-old right-hander was (1-1) with a 4.70 ERA and a .302/.343/.508 line against in 15 13 IP.

Hellickson issued a leadoff walk to the first batter he faced this afternoon, but retired 12 in a row after that, completing four scoreless innings on 46 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Another 1-2-3 frame in the fifth gave Hellickson 15-straight outs, but a two-out walk in the sixth (to Anthony Rizzo) snapped the streak of retired batters at 17 in a row.

Hellickson fell behind 3-0 on Javier Baez in the next at bat as well, and he walked the Cubs’ second baseman to put two on with two out, then he fell behind Ben Zobrist 3-0 as well and walked him to load the bases with two down on his 30th pitch of the inning and his 89th of the game.

That was it for Hellickson...

Jeremy Hellickson’s Line: 5.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 89 P, 54 S, 6/1 GO/FO.

Hendricks at home: Chicago Cubs’ righty Kyle Hendricks took the mound this afternoon in Wrigley Field (4-6) in 12 starts at home this season, with a 3.75 ERA and a .237/.284/.421 line against in 72 IP. Hendricks was coming off back-to-back wins over the Cardinals and Padres in which the 28-year-old right-hander gave up nine hits and six earned runs, striking out 15 batters without walking anyone in 12 23 IP in those outings.

Hendricks and the Cubs fell behind early in the series opener, with Trea Turner and Juan Soto singling around a hit-by-pitch on Anthony Rendon.

Soto’s hit, on 1-2 changeup, was a two-out, line drive single to center, that brought Turner in from second base for a 1-0 lead.

Daniel Murphy singled to left to start the Nationals’ second, moved up on a bunt by Jeremy Hellickson, and scored on a two-out RBI single to right by Adam Eaton, who made it 2-0.

Nice “slide”, Murphy:

Hendricks held it there through six, though, working around two singles in his final inning of work in the top of the sixth inning to keep it close as Jeremy Hellickson held Cubs’ hitters to a walk but no hits through five.

Kyle Hendricks’ Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 85 P, 62 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Soto RISP: Juan Soto has put up impressive numbers in pretty much every category early in the 19-year-old’s major league career. Entering play today, Soto led all MLB rookies (with a minimum of 290 plate appearances), in AVG (.305), OBP (.423), and SLG (.551), but he was hitting just .226 (12 for 53) with runners in scoring position (though he did have a .431 OBP and a .566 SLG with RISP).

With runners in scoring position and two out, however, Soto was 11 for 29 (.379/.526/.655) with two doubles and two home runs, and he added an RBI single with two on and two out in the top of the first inning this afternoon, lining a two-strike change from Kyle Hendricks to center field to drive Trea Turner in and give the Nationals an early lead.

[ed. note - “We have to mention that Soto also got picked off first base twice tonight, once by pitcher Kyle Hendricks, and once by catcher Willson Contreras, who caught Soto for the first out of the eighth, after Bryce Harper and Soto took back-to-back walks to start the frame with the Cubs up, 3-2. #notgood.”]

Murphy ❤️s Wrigley: Daniel Murphy started the afternoon 36 for 92 (.391/.423/.674) with a total of eight doubles and six home runs in 25 games in Wrigley Field in his career, and the 33-year-old infielder went 3 for 3 in his first three trips to the plate, singling and scoring in the second, then doubling to start the fourth, and singling with two out in the sixth, with all of them opposite field hits.

Coming into today’s game, Murphy was on quite a run, going 21 for 64 (.328/.368/.531) with four doubles and three home runs in 18 games after the All-Star Break. Murphy finished the day 3 for 4 with a run scored, grounding out with the potential tying run at third base with two out in the eighth.

BULLPEN ACTION: Jeremy Hellickson walked three straight with two out in the sixth, forcing Davey Martinez’s hand. Martinez lifted the starter with the bases loaded even though he had not allowed a hit, turning to Sammy Solis against Jason Heyward, who started the at bat with a .307/.358/.400 line vs lefties this season.

Heyward got up 2-0, and sent a 94 mph sinker through the right side for a game-tying, two-run single, 2-2.

David Bote got up 3-0, got the green light, but missed back-to-back fastballs to get to a full count, and K’d swinging to end the inning.

Justin Wilson took over for the Cubs with the score tied at 2-2 in the seventh, and gave up a one-out bunt single by Adam Eaton. Steve Cisek took over with Trea Turner at the plate, and got Turner and Anthony Rendon swinging for the second and third outs. Still 2-2.

Solis came back out for the Cubs’ half of the seventh, and gave up a leadoff single by Kyle Schwarber. Greg Holland took over, and Willson Contreras dropped a bunt down, but he was out of the lane (to the inside) when Anthony Rendon threw to first, so he was called out by home plate umpire Bill Miller, who had a long, long, discussion with Joe Maddon after he called Contreras out of the play and sent Schwarber, who reached third on the play, back to first base.

Ian Happ singled to center in the next at bat, moving Schwarber into scoring position with one out, and Addison Russell lined one off Holland’s glove and back up the middle to load the bases in front of Anthony Rizzo, who got up 3-0, and took ball four to force in the go-ahead run, 3-2 Cubs.

Koda Glover took over with the bases loaded and one out, and got a force at home on a chopper back toward the mound from Javier Baez, and a groundout to first from Ben Zobrist to end the seventh.

Former Nationals’ reliever Brandon Kintzler took the mound for the Cubs in the eighth, and gave up back-to-back walks to Bryce Harper and Juan Soto.

Carl Edwards, Jr. took over at that point, and Soto got picked off first by catcher Willson Contreras for out No. 1, and Mark Reynolds few to right for out No. 2.

Daniel Murphy stepped in with the tying run 90 ft from home after Harper advanced on the Reynolds’ fly ball, and grounded out to second.

Wander Suero worked around a walk (with help from Spencer Kieboom, who caught David Bote trying to swipe second after he walked) in a scoreless, 11-pitch bottom of the eighth.

Pedro Strop came on for the save opportunity in the top of the ninth inning, and retired the first two batters he faced before the Cubs’ righty and first baseman Anthony Rizzo flubbed a play at first base on a weak grounder by Adam Eaton.

Trea Turner got a shot with a runner on, but K’d swinging at a 1-2 slider to end it.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 3-2 Cubs

Nationals now 59-57