Welcome to MASN's discussion space for tonight's Nationals-Cubs game at Nationals Park. I'll have updates and analysis throughout the night, and you can weigh in by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this post. I'll respond to you there.
7:15: John Lannan threw 19 pitches in the first inning, 14 of them strikes and 13 of them fastballs, and escaped without a run after giving up a one-out double to Starlin Castro. He threw a nice changeup to strike out Aramis Ramirez and end the inning.
7:33: Lannan is in trouble in the second inning, and for the second night in a row, Alfonso Soriano has a big blow against his former team. Lannan hung a slider on an 0-1 pitch, and Soriano blasted it to left for a three-run homer. It's 3-0 Cubs, and Lannan has retired one of the five batters he's faced in the second.
7:44: Three up, three down for the Nationals in the second inning, all on swings and misses against Carlos Zambrano.
8:10: The Nationals are on the board with Ryan Zimmerman's single up the middle, which scored Alberto Gonzalez. If Lannan can keep things together, they'll have a chance to get back in this one.
8:21: So much for that. Lannan gave up another home run, again on the slider, to Tyler Colvin. It's 5-1 Cubs in the fourth. Lannan has been decent tonight other than that pitch, which he hasn't been able to locate effectively.
8:47: Still 5-1 Cubs after a couple of effective innings from Miguel Batista. But the Nationals' offense, which had scored one run in its last two games, continues to struggle. They have just three hits tonight against Carlos Zambrano, the same number they had last night.
9:07: Zambrano comes out after 7 1/3 having given up five hits. He's responsible for the runner on first after Nyjer Morgan's single, but he's succeeded in shutting the Nationals down for most of the night.
9:23: The Nationals loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, giving pinch hitter Ian Desmond a chance to tie the game off Carlos Marmol. Bur Desmond responded with just a terrible at-bat, taking a pitch for a strike before check-swinging at two sliders. It's 5-1 Cubs, and the Nationals' best chance to get back in this game might have just slipped away.
9:39: Well, maybe this one isn't quite over yet. The Nationals loaded the bases, this time with one out in the ninth, on Marmol. But Nyjer Morgan struck out, leaving Adam Kennedy as their last shot.
9:42: Kennedy drove in three runs with a double, and now Ryan Zimmerman has a chance to tie it with a hit or win it with a walk-off.
9:44: Not happening tonight for the Nationals. Zimmerman squared up a Marmol fastball on his sixth pitch of the at-bat, after laying off one slider and fouling off another, but Kosuke Fukudome caught it on a running attempt. Cubs win 5-4.