Washington Nationals Recap: Nats Beat Cubs on Jayson Werth Walk-off in the 12th

Jun 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth (28) hits an RBI sacrifice fly against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth (28) hits an RBI sacrifice fly against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, in 12 innings Wednesday afternoon on a walk-off single by Jayson Werth.

With Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90 ERA) on the mound, Washington (40-26) took the field hoping to win a hard-fought series with the best team in all of baseball. Strasburg would hit a bump in the top if the first, however, allowing Ben Zobrist to lead off the game with a home run into the right field seats.

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Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.26) entered play Wednesday with a 9-0 record and 3.16 ERA in twelve career starts against the NL East-leading Nationals. It looked like the Nats would be getting the best of him early, scoring Ben Revere in the first inning on a wild pitch that Miguel Montero could secure his glove around. The 11-year veteran then settled into a groove, retiring 13 straight hitters between the second and sixth innings.

Strasburg recovered from his early mishap well, going seven stellar innings in which he gave up only one run on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. Hammel went toe-to-toe with the Nats’ ace, allowing one run as well through seven. Both teams turned things over to their bullpens in the eighth, looking to squeeze a run or two across with the starters out of the game.

The Nats struck first on a pinch-hit solo home run off the bat of Stephen Drew in the bottom of the eighth. Drew’s sixth long ball of the year gave the Nats a 2-1 with only three outs left to play, but the Cubs (45-19) weren’t finished just yet. After Kris Bryant led off the frame with a double off the wall in right center, Anthony Rizzo crushed a 1-1 pitch over the right field fence to put Chicago up 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth.

Washington fought back valiantly in the ninth. Bryce Harper drew a leadoff walk and Daniel Murphy moved him over to second on a groundout right back at closer Hector Rondon. Ryan Zimmerman struck out trying the climb the ladder to bring up Wilson Ramos with two down. The Buffalo came through, hitting a single to left field that Bryant bobbled. Harper, who was running anyway, scored easily and the Nats sent the game into extras locked at 3-3.

Shawn Kelley pitched a scoreless tenth for the Nats, working around a leadoff walk to keep the Cubs off the board. Justin Grimm and Travis Wood combined to push the game into the eleventh for Chicago, with Wood ending the inning by forcing pinch hitter Clint Robinson to ground into a double play.

Dusty Baker then went to long reliever Yusmeiro Petit, who hadn’t pitched since June 7. Petit ran into trouble in the top of the twelfth, allowing Albert Almora, Jr.  to hit a leadoff single. He moved over to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI-single by Addison Russell that gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.

Things weren’t pretty for the Nats in the bottom of the inning, but they were able to get the line moving. Anthony Rendon worked a nine-pitch battle with Trevor Cahill before being caught looking on a pitch in the bottom right-hand corner. Rendon raised his arms up in frustration and home plate umpire Bob Davidson tossed him as a result. Dusty, who was celebrating his 67th brithday, came out to argue the call but was able to restrain himself enough to avoid getting thrown out himself.

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Danny Espinosa came up next for Washington, reaching base after Cahill missed his spot and hit the shortstop in the back. Espi stole second without a throw, then tied the game when Michael Taylor slapped a single in the right center gap. Joe Maddon then brought in Adam Warren to end the threat, and he forced Chris Heisey to line out for the second out in the inning. That brought up Jayson Werth, who sent everyone home with a liner off the wall in center that scored Taylor from first. It was his second walk-off of the homestand, giving the Nats a series win over the MLB-best Chicago Cubs.

Next: Washington Nationals: Takeaways From 4-3 Loss To Cubs

Next Up: The Nats embark on a ten-game West Coast road trip, beginning with a four-game slate in San Diego. Tanner Roark (5-4, 2.93) and Erik Johnson (0-3, 7.71) will go head-to-head with first pitched scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.