Max Scherzer worked his way out of a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh, striking out Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras with his 106th and final pitch to preserve a 1-0 lead. Chicago starter Cole Hamels retired 18-straight after he gave up a run in the second, and Carl Edwards, Jr.’s scoreless eighth kept it a one-run game. But former Washington Nationals’ reliever Brandon Kintzler gave up two in the top of the ninth when Joe Maddon tried to get away with walking Bryce Harper to load the bases in front of Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a two-run single out to center field to make it a 3-0 game.
It seemed like things were going the Nats’ way for a change, for a few minutes there, then...
Wilmer Difo, brought on as a defensive replacement, bobbled a one-out ground ball, letting Jason Heyward on with what was scored a single.
Ryan Madson, on for the save opportunity, hit Albert Almora, Jr. with an 0-1 change, and one out later, Madson hit Contreras with a 2-2 curve with two down, loading the bases in front of pinch hitter David Bote, who hit a 2-2 fastball down in the zone (No. 5 below) out to center field in Wrigley Field for a walk-off grand slam. Dagger.
“It’s a gut punch,” Max Scherzer told reporters after the 4-3 loss, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
Instead of a 3-0 win and 2 of 3 in Wrigley, the Nationals’ suffered their 20th loss in 31 one-run games this season in devastating fashion.
“We left here with one win, we should have had three,” Davey Martinez said. “I’m proud of those guys, and I’m not giving up on any of them.”
Scherzer made a one-run lead hold up through seven. Glover, pressed into action in a high-leverage situation in his second appearance in the majors this season, got the Nats through the eighth, but Madson, pitching with a back issue, apparently, couldn’t get the third out in the ninth.
Madson said Contreras didn’t bother him. Instead, revealed he’s been dealing with back pain that sends shooting pain down his leg, made it hard to finish pitches and maintain accuracy.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) August 13, 2018
Justin Miller began warming when Madson struggled. The only thing the 37-year-old veteran couldn’t do was what he did, give up a grand slam.
“Bases loaded,” Madson said. “I had a good fastball. I tried to cut a couple tonight again, but with the back issue, especially the last one, it almost feels like the ball comes out muted out of my hand. It probably looks a lot better to the hitter. That was the last one. It didn’t come out of my hand very well.”
“It’s the thing that when you’re a kid in the backyard and you’re visualizing trying to win games it’s always bases loaded, you’re down by three and you’re trying to hit the grand slam,” Hamels told reporters, as quoted by Chicago Sun-Times’ writer Chris Kuc after he was spared a loss by Bote’s blast.
“For 8 2⁄3 innings we played really good baseball,” Martinez said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. “Really good baseball.”
It wasn’t enough. Now it’s on to St. Louis, for four games with the Cardinals, who have won eight of ten, and are now 5.5 games back in the NL Central, like the Nats are in the East.