In a game that stretched to extra innings, and close to four hours, the Chicago Cubs found a way to generate enough offense in the 10th to score a run on closer Sean Doolittle and beat the Nationals 4-3.
The Nats’ (74-73) win streak ends at five games. They now quickly head to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves.
In the top of the 10th with one-out against Doolittle (3-3), Kris Bryant doubled to left-center field. Former Nats second baseman Daniel Murphy reached on an infield single. Javier Báez singled on a bunt between Ryan Zimmerman and Difo to score Bryant with what turned out to be the winning run.
“We almost got out of the inning. It was a weird inning,” Doolittle said.
“When you play these games like that, you can’t give teams 28, 29 outs,” said manager Davey Martinez. “Can’t do it. But we battled. We battled back.”
Doolittle was surprised the Báez was able to bunt for the base hit instead of swinging.
“If you had told me that I was going to get beat by Javy in extra innings, I would not have thought it would be on a bunt,” Doolittle said. “But that’s what makes him dangerous is he can beat you a number of different ways.
“And he put it just out of the reach of Zim. I saw it go up off his bat and I thought we had a chance to catch it, but it was just far enough over. I caught some breaks this year, unfortunately I didn’t catch that one.”
Right-hander Joe Ross pitched well for the Nats in his first full start back from Tommy John surgery 14 months ago, finishing five frames. He allowed two runs on four hits with two walks. Of his 74 pitches, 47 were strikes. Although he would much prefer a win, Ross was pretty satisfied with the outing.
“Yeah, for the most part,” Ross said. “My slider kind of needed some work today. It was kind of flat and leaving it up a little bit. But for the most part, I felt pretty good. Fastball, especially sinker, was getting good movements on some, especially the ones down in the zone. Felt good out there today. Just glad it wasn’t raining again.”
Catcher Spencer Kieboom, who hit his second homer in three games, liked what he saw from Ross in his second time on the mound since the Sept. 7 rain-shortened cancellation. There was concern coming in about Ross’s changeup, but Kieboom said they were featuring the pitch with success.
“He had a good mix of three pitches,” Kieboom said. “We used the changeup quite a bit. Sinker was there. I thought he spotted up the fastball pretty well. I thought the inning where they scored two runs was the top of fourth, there really wasn’t any hard-hit balls. (Victor) Caratini hit that ball pretty good, he found a hole. It is what it is. I thought he did a great job today.”
With a walk in the fourth, Anthony Rendon extended his on-base streak to a career-high 22 games, dating to Aug. 21. But he finished 0-for-4 at the plate.
In the bottom of the 10th against Cubs reliever Randy Rosario, Rendon popped out to first base. Juan Soto grounded out to second base. Zimmerman struck out to end the game. The Nats are now 4-9 in extra-inning games.