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 if you've got thoughts on the game, leave them in the comments section. I'll respond to you there.
7:23: The Nationals and Cubs have played one, with Jason Marquis surviving his own walk, a balk and Ryan Zimmerman's throwing error on Marlon Byrd's grounder. Zimmerman scooped one of his sidearm throws, as he's occasionally known to do, and caused Adam Dunn to leave first base as he leapt to catch it. But Marquis regrouped to end the inning with a couple of flyouts, and we're scoreless after one.
7:38: Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster singles behind second base off Marquis. But give Ian Desmond some credit for a) ranging behind second to get to the ball and b) eating the throw after he saw he had no play. Desmond made a costly error on a similar play earlier in the month, but thought better of it there.
7:41: Another good non-throw by Desmond, after Dunn threw to him to get Dempster out at second on a fielder's choice. The Nationals didn't have a chance to double up Kosuke Fukudome, so Desmond held it after pumping once. He got rewarded for it a batter later, when Starlin Castro hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
8:18: Marquis can't get through an inning without some trouble, it seems; he's only had one inning without a hit or a walk. But he's pitched five scoreless, dropping his ERA back to three digits for the first time since the first game of the year. The Nationals' offense again looks crippled against Ryan Dempster, though, and we're still scoreless in the bottom of the fifth.
8:33: We're headed into the bottom of the sixth, and Marquis is still working on a shutout. He's thrown a tidy 81 pitches through sixth innings, and the Nationals' bullpen is just now showing some activity. Nearly five months into the season, Marquis will pitch into the seventh for the first time.
8:44: Seven scoreless for Marquis. He got through the seventh in order, striking out Geovany Soto looking to end the inning. For the first time this year, the Nationals are getting what they paid $15 million for.
8:52: But they can't break through against Dempster. The Nationals have struck out eight times against him, five of them on called strikes - and three of those by Adam Dunn, who was rung up in the bottom of the seventh. We're still scoreless in an entertaining pitcher's duel; Marquis has been getting groundouts, while Dempster racked up the Ks - and still threw just 79 pitches in seven innings. The Cubs just pinch hit for him, though, so the Nationals will have a chance against Chicago's bullpen. They've got to try for the lead, but it could backfire if they don't score in the seventh. Tyler Colvin has a leadoff walk for the Cubs.
8:57: Raise your hand if you thought you'd see a standing ovation for Marquis this year at Nationals Park. Well, he just got one, after coming out of the game for Tyler Clippard. Marquis worked 7 1/3, though he's responsible for the runner on first. But even if Colvin scores, it's been a great night for the right-hander. Nyjer Morgan just made a basket catch of Kosuke Fukudome's liner to deep center, though it looked somewhat frivolous after he overran it. Nonetheless, we're still scoreless, and Clippard is coming in with a runner on base.
9:03: Marquis won't leave with a shutout. Clippard - who had allowed 15 of 41 inherited runners to score before tonight - gave up a double to Starlin Castro. And two batters later, Aramis Ramirez took Clippard deep. It's 3-0 Cubs now. I'm not so sure I wouldn't have let Marquis finish the inning. Either that, or start the inning with Clippard, who isn't the same pitcher with men on base. His strikeout-to-walk ratio before tonight with the bases empty was 3.29-to-1; with runners on base, it was 1.55-to-1.
9:25: This is getting away from the Nationals quickly; Alfonso Soriano just hit his second homer of the series on an elevated fastball from Sean Burnett. It's 4-0 in the top of the ninth, and the Cubs won't even have a save situation for Carlos Marmol.
9:33: The Cubs will go to Marmol anyway in the ninth inning. Nyjer Morgan, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman are due up for Washington.
9:38: After a Zimmerman single, Adam Dunn's long flyout to right will end it. The Nationals fall 4-0, and Marquis' record drops to 0-7. Of those seven losses, this is the second one in a row he didn't deserve. More in a little bit.