Game 44 lineups: Nats vs. Cubs

The Nationals embark on a challenging three-game series tonight at home at they welcome in the first-place Cubs.

Fresh off their first series win since April 18, the Nats face a Cubs squad that has gone 9-1-1 in their last 11 series. Chicago’s loss to Cincinnati last night marked its first series loss since April 7 against the Brewers. Since starting the season 2-7, the Cubs have won 23 of 3 games.

Washington would love to have a run even close to that after stumbling out of the gates, just ending a 7-16 clip with two wins out of three against the Mets. Even with everything that has gone wrong, the Nats are still just six games out of first place in the National League East.

Trea-Turner-swing-blue-sidebar.jpgThe Nats are hoping the return of starting shortstop Trea Turner will energize the club. He has been out since April 3 with a broken right index finger and slashes a career .289/.347/.807 with 128 stolen bases and 240 runs scored since 2015.

Turner’s return was one of a flurry of pregame moves by the Nationals, who also placed right-hander Aníbal Sánchez on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, optioned infielder Wilmer Difo to Triple-A Fresno and recalled right-hander Kyle McGowin from the Grizzlies.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon has now reached base safely in 25 of 29 games after driving in the first run of Thursday’s 7-6 win over the Mets with an RBI single.

Gerardo Parra has been a welcome addition to the club. The veteran infielder/outfielder has hit .294 with two doubles, two homers, two walks, a stolen base, four run scored and seven RBIs in five games. He has hit a grand slam and a two-run shot and had the lone hit, a double, to break up Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu’s bid for a no-hitter last weekend.

Tonight’s game features three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer against left-hander Cole Hamels, who is a four-time All-Star and has been named World Series and NL Championship Series MVP in his career.

Scherzer has struck out 11 or more batters in three of his last four regular season matchups against the Cubs. Hamels is 7-3 with a 2.64 ERA in 20 starts with the Cubs. The duo squared off on Aug. 12, 2018 in an epic battle where they combined for 14 innings, one earned run allowed, four hits yielded and 20 strikeouts. The Cubs won that game 4-3 on the dramatic walk-off grand slam by pinch-hitter David Bote.

CHICAGO CUBS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 79 degrees, wind 8 mph right field to third base

NATIONALS (18-25)
SS Trea Turner
RF Victor Robles
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Howie Kendrick
LF Juan Soto
C Kurt Suzuki
2B Brian Dozier
CF Michael A. Taylor
RHP Max Scherzer

CUBS (25-16)
LF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Javier Báez
C Willson Contreras
2B Daniel Descalso
RF Jason Hayward
CF Albert Almora Jr.
LHP Cole Hamels

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