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Washington Nationals drop 6-4 decision to Chicago Cubs in extra innings in D.C.

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Washington’s Nationals are now 3-8 in extra inning games in 2018 after they dropped the series opener to the Chicago Cubs, 6-4 in 10.

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The series opener with the Chicago Cubs in the nation’s capital went to extra innings tied at 4-4, but back-to-back, one-out doubles by Albert Almora, Jr. and David Bote off Washington Nationals’ right-hander Jimmy Cordero put the visiting team on top in what ended up a 6-4 win. The loss left the Nats 3-8 in extra innings game this season.

Strasburg vs the Cubs: Stephen Strasburg showed signs of improvement in each of his last two starts after he struggled some in his first outing back following his second DL stint this season.

His velocity wasn’t there in the first outing, but it ticked back up in each successive turn in the rotation, though still not up to where it’s been the last year or so.

Last time out on the mound before tonight, the 30-year-old right-hander held Milwaukee’s Brewers to two runs on five hits in six innings, striking out seven of the 24 batters he faced in a 5-4 win in which he received no decision.

“His velo’s back, plus, man, the first few innings he was lights out and that’s the Strasburg that we’ve seen in the past, so hopefully he’s got it now, and he’s good and in five days we see that same Stras,” Davey Martinez told reporters after that game.

Tonight, taking on the Chicago Cubs for the first time since last October’s Game 4 of the NLDS, Strasburg tossed two scoreless on 33 pitches to start, and retired two in the top of the second before Javier Baez (single) and Anthony Rizzo (double) connected for back-to-back hits with Rizzo’s grounder through the right side and into the gap driving in the first run of the game, 1-0, before he scored on an RBI single by Ben Zobrist that jumped off of the first base bag and shot into right, 2-0.

With the score 3-2 Nats after four, Daniel Murphy singled to left to start the top of the fifth and took third on a Rizzo grounder to Anthony Rendon, when Rendon sailed the throw to first base, E:5. Zobrist stepped in next and hit a 2-2 fastball deep enough to center field for a sac fly that tied things up at 3-3.

It was 4-3 Nats when Strasburg returned to the mound in the sixth and recorded two outs around a walk before he was lifted after throwing 111 pitches overall.

Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 111 P, 71 S, 4/4 GO/FO.

Hendricks vs the Nationals: Cubs’ righty Kyle Hendricks gave up two runs on eight hits in six innings on the mound in Wrigley Field against the Nationals back on August 10th.

Over four starts that followed before he took on Washington again tonight in the nation’s capital, Hendricks went (3-1) with a 2.42 ERA, six walks, 20 Ks, and a .258/.301/.309 line against in 26 IP, leaving him with a 3.77 ERA, 40 walks, 135 Ks, and a .256/.306/.404 line against in 164 23 IP this season.

Hendricks tossed three scoreless on 34 pitches as the Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but an error on a Bryce Harper grounder toward first base and an RBI triple to right-center by Anthony Rendon got the Nationals on the board in the fourth, 2-1 Chicago.

One out later, Mark Reynolds worked the count full and got all of a 3-2 changeup that went out to left field for a two-run blast that made it 3-2 Nationals. No. 13 of 2018 for Reynolds.

Spencer Kieboom singled to left to lead off the Nationals’ half of the fifth and scored from third two outs later on an RBI single by Trea Turner, putting the Nats back on top after the Cubs rallied to tie it up in the top of the inning, 4-3.

Kyle Hendricks’ Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 74 P, 52 S, 4/1 GO/FO.

Murphy’s Back!: In 13 games since the August 21st trade that sent Daniel Murphy to the Cubs in return for minor league infielder Andruw Monasterio, the 33-year-old infielder’s gone 18 for 57 (.316/.339/.579) with three doubles and four home runs before returning tonight for his first game as a visitor in the nation’s capital since 2015.

Davey Martinez talked to reporters before the game about preparing to face the now-former Nats’ second baseman.

“We know that he’s a very good hitter and we know that he does prepare well,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to prepare so when he steps up there, [we know] the best way to get him out.”

Stephen Strasburg got Murphy in their first two matchups, but Murphy hit a 1-0 fastball to left on a line for leadoff single in the top of the fifth, 1 for 3.

Murphy was 1 for 4 after Matt Grace retired him in the top of the sixth, and 1 for 5 after Tim Collins retired him to end the top of the eighth.

Kieboom starts/hits again: Spencer Kieboom got the start for the Nationals tonight, and went 3 for 3 in his first three at bats, leaving him 19 for 89 as a starter this season in 29 games.

BULLPEN ACTION: Matt Grace took over on the mound for Stephen Strasburg with a runner on first and Daniel Murphy at the plate in the sixth, and got a fly to left field for the final out of the frame, still 4-3 Nationals.

Lefty Randy Rosario took over for the Cubs in the bottom of the sixth inning, working around a two-out single by Mark Reynolds (2 for 3) for a scoreless inning.

Koda Glover needed 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the top of the seventh.

Rosario and Steve Cisek combined for a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning.

Justin Miller got the ball in the top of the eighth inning and gave up back-to-back singles by Kris Bryant and Albert Almora, Jr. Bryant scored on a grounder to short by Willson Contreras in the next at bat, though Trea Turner threw to second to catch Almora, Jr. off the bag for the first out of the inning, 4-4 game.

Terrance Gore took over at first for Contreras, and stole second, in spite of a strong throw from one knee by Spencer Kieboom, but Ian Happ K’d swinging for out No. 2. Tommy La Stella stepped in as a pinch hitter for Addison Russell and fell behind 0-2 before taking a fastball to the elbow and taking his base.

Tim Collins came on for Miller at that point, with Daniel Murphy up, and runners on first and second and got a fly to left for out No. 3.

Juan Soto was 2 for 4 on the night after he lined a 95 mph 3-1 fastball from Carl Edwards, Jr. to right after Bryce Harper walked to star the Nationals’ half of the eighth. Harper took third on Soto’s 21st two-base hit of the season.

Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon went to the pen for Justin Wilson against Mark Reynolds, (who had a .316 AVG against lefties on the season before the at bat)... (though he was 0 for 3 with three vs Wilson in their respective careers)... (and Wilson had held left-handed hitters to a .184/.284/.303 line in 88 PAs). Managering. Reynolds got to 2-2, but K’d swinging on a changeup up in the zone, 0 for 4, 4 Ks vs Wilson. Wilmer Difo (from the right side against the lefty) lined out to left.

Greg Holland needed 14 pitches in a quick, 1-2-3 ninth.

Pedro Strop got the bottom of the ninth for the Cubbies, and retired the Nationals in order to send it to extras.

Jimmy Cordero got the tenth for the Nationals and gave up back-to-back one-out doubles by Albert Almora, Jr. and David Bote that put the Cubs up, 5-4. Pinch hitter Taylor Davis hit an RBI single to right in the next at bat to bring Bote in, 6-4.

Jesse Chavez got the bottom of the tenth for the Cubs, and walked the leadoff batter, Trea Turner. Turner took third on a one-out single to right by Anthony Rendon, but Juan Soto K’d swinging through a 2-2 cutter, and Mark Reynolds sent a fly to center to end it.

Ballgame.

Final Score: 6-4 Cubs

Nationals now 69-72