The Cubs edged the Nationals 5-4 Tuesday at Nats Park, but not before some final inning dramatics got the home team back in the game and hopefully signaled a turn for the better for a struggling offense.
Down 5-1 and with two outs, Adam Kennedy laced a three-run double off of closer Carlos Marmol and Ryan Zimmerman battled through a long at bat before flying out to deep right to end the game.
Although the Nats did not win the game, it was a vast improvement from the way the team felt after Monday’s series opener, a 9-1 shellacking to a Chicago team that came in licking their wounds from a 16-5 loss at home to Atlanta and the subsequent accelerated retirement announcement by their manager Lou Piniella.
As for the Nats skipper, a former Cubs manager himself, a post game speech Monday might have played a part in the fight the Nats demonstrated in the ninth to try to rally for the win in game two.
Zimmerman talked about Riggleman’s message, saying that he told the team to “finish out the season strong.”
“We have a young team. We are learning. (Jim said) just to take the last five weeks and get as much out of it as you can. Don’t throw any at bats away. I don’t think he thinks we are doing any of that. He is kind of reminding us to not give anything away, fight for the last five weeks and finish strong,” Zimmerman said.
Nyjer Morgan agreed and said Riggleman told the team to not “give up on ourselves. We want to finish strong. We definitely have a talented group here.”
“We all want to stay together. But we all got to start piecing it together to show that we belong here. (We need to) definitely show the Nats nation that we are not going to give up on ourselves and that we are going to keep plugging every day,” Morgan said.
The loss Tuesday was the Nats’ sixth setback in their last eight games, but the ninth inning rally may signal the team still has some fight left in them.