Following a fog-shrouded loss to the Cubs on Thursday night, the Nationals looked to get back on track against the Cubs in a Friday afternoon matinee. Unfortunately, the bats continued to struggle, as did Tanner Roark, who came into the game 4-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his last four starts and looking for his fifth straight win.
The Nats got the scoring started early in the top of the second inning. After Adam LaRoche led off the inning with a single, Ryan Zimmerman brought him in with a double into the left field ivy. The Nats even caught a bit of a break as the relay throw bounced awkwardly into home, preventing a repeat of last night’s play at the plate. Unfortunately, Washington failed to capitalize further. Zimmerman was thrown out attempting to come home on a weak ground ball, and Espinosa (still looking for his first hit on this road trip) struck out before Roark grounded out to end the inning.
Adam LaRoche would knot the game up at 2-2 in the top of the fourth, leading off with his 10th home run of the season, a line drive shot that just cleared the right field wall.
But, once again, Tanner Roark (7-5) could not keep the Cubs off of the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame. The Cubs quickly answered with a two run single from Ryan Sweeney, plating Coghlan and Barney. After the fourth finally concluded, the Nationals trailed 4-2, and Roark, who struggled with command all afternoon, had thrown 76 pitches. He would leave the game after the sixth, having surrendered 4 runs (all earned) on 10 hits with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts.
Things remained quiet until the bottom of the seventh, when Jerry Blevins came on for the Nats in relief. Blevins struggled mightily with command. After loading the bases, he surrendered a two out, three run double to Baker to stretch the Cubs lead to 7-2. Aaron Barrett came in and was able to close out the inning, and Taylor Hill pitched a scoreless eighth in his second big league appearance.
As for offense, the Nationals managed only one meager threat after the LaRoche homer, putting two on with two out in the top of the eighth before Jayson Werth grounded out, killing any chance at a late inning rally.
Overall, it was disappointing performance all around for the Nationals, who will need to sweep the double header Saturday to salvage a split with the Cubs. In the early game, Gio Gonzalez (4-4) will get the nod against Dallas Beeler, who will be making his major league debut.