Rare defensive miscues cost Nats in loss to Cubs

CHICAGO - They had been a stellar defensive team throughout the season's first month, entering play last night with fewer errors than any other club in the National League. Which only made the Nationals' defensive miscues during their 5-2 loss to the Cubs all the more striking.

From a purely official standpoint, the Nats were not charged with any errors. They still lead the NL with only nine in 28 games so far this year. From an unofficial standpoint, they were quite shaky in the field.

It began with Michael A. Taylor's inability to catch Kris Bryant's drive to the base of the wall in center field during a key at-bat in the bottom of the fourth. The ball glanced off Taylor's glove, then disappeared into the Wrigley Field ivy.

Taylor took responsibility for the misplay, refusing to blame the unique conditions at this ballpark for playing a role.

"Honestly, I don't think so," he said. "We have time to go out there, take BP and walk the track, things like that. I have to prepare before the game and be ready."

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Jayson Werth also struggled to haul in Addison Russell's drive to the wall in the bottom of the eighth, turning a potential third out into an RBI double.

Maybe the most significant (and certainly unsightly) play in the field for the Nationals in this game came earlier in the bottom of the eighth, when reliever Felipe Rivero appeared to have Tommy La Stella picked off at first base.

The Nationals proceeded to get La Stella in a rundown, but Ryan Zimmerman's throw to Daniel Murphy sailed high and off Murphy's glove, ultimately allowing La Stella to return safely to first base. (Though the Nationals did challenge the safe call and thought they had La Stella in time, only to wait four minutes before replay officials in New York determined there wasn't sufficient video evidence to overturn the call.)

That play proved quite costly, because it kept the inning alive and set the stage for Ben Zobrist's two-run homer, turning what had been a 2-0 Cubs lead into a 4-0 advantage.

"We didn't catch some balls. We didn't throw some balls," manager Dusty Baker said. "Tonight was overall one of the worst games we've played in a while."

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