Washington Nationals Recap: Lose Early Lead, Drop Series Finale to Cubs 6-3

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The Washington Nationals recent struggles continued on Sunday afternoon as they surrendered an early 2-1 lead and lost the final game of the four game series against the Chicago Cubs, 6-3.  With the loss, the Nats  lost three of the four games against the Cubs this weekend and have now lost eight of their last ten games overall to drop their record to 30-27. In addition, they are now a half game behind the Mets for the NL East lead.  Jordan Zimmermann (5-3, 3.16) struggled in the loss, going just five innings while allowing four runs.

The scoring started early in the top of the second for Chicago.  With one out, Chris Coghlan doubled to left field to put himself in scoring position before Starlin Castro singled him in to give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.  However, the Nats immediately struck back in the bottom of the inning.  Castro couldn’t handle a Wilson Ramos groundball, giving the Nats a free leadoff runner that they would not waste.  Ian Desmond followed with a fly ball to right field, which carried into the seats for a 2-1 Nationals lead.  The tater was Desmond’s fifth of 2015.

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The Cubs struck back, scoring a run in the top of the fourth.  Chris Denorfia singled with one out and was driven in a batter later on a Jonathan Herrera base hit.  In the top of the fifth, Anthony Rizzo singled and Kris Bryant doubled before Montero walked to give the Cubs a bases loaded,no out opportunity.  Coghlan, who scored the first Cubs run of the game, singled to right to score Rizzo and Bryant and give the Cubs a 4-2 lead.  Starlin Castro would supply the final two runs of the game for the Cubs in the sixth inning, driving in two with a bases loaded single to give himself three RBI’s in the game.

With the exception of the Desmond homer and a Yunel Escobar RBI single in the fifth, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.96) pitched very well.  The right-hander went five innings, gave up three runs and struck out four batters.  In a somewhat interesting move, the Cubs used usual closer Hector Rondon in the eighth inning before Jason Motte collected his first save of the season.  Rondon walked his only batter on Saturday afternoon before being pulled by Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

Next Game:  The Nationals (30-27) will next play on Tuesday when they will take on the New York Yankees (32-27) at Yankee Stadium at 7:05 ET.  The Nationals swept the two game series against New York at home in May and will hope to continue their winning ways.  Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85) will look to get back on track following a rough last start against Toronto while Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76) will try and collect his fourth win of the season for the Yankees.  The game can be seen on MASN and YES.

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