By James Kenney
After stealing Game 1 of the series from Kyle Hendricks and company, the Nats turned to Gio Gonzalez to take the series in the second game on Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
Gonzalez was flawless through the first two innings, but allowed two hits and a walk during the top of the third. Outfielder Jason Heyward plated two runs on a single to right field. Heyward fought off a tough pitch in a veteran showing at the plate.
The Nats would answer right back in the bottom half of the inning. Outfielder Jayson Werth, the walk-off hero in Sunday’s game, has been surging lately and continued his offensive production with a sacrifice fly that scored shortstop Danny Espinosa. The Nats came within one run of the Cubs.
The Cubs would then answer the Nationals run with a David Ross RBI single in the top of the fourth inning. Ross has been a problem for the Nats for most of his Major League career. Ross put the Cubs up 3-1.
Both teams’ bats would go silent for three innings until the Nats would start to chip away in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ben Revere got to the seemingly unbreakable Pedro Strop with a fly out to left fielder Kris Bryant who scored Espinosa again. The Nats were within one run of the Cubs, 3-2.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning, the Nats again got the best of the Cubs’ relief pitching. Third baseman Anthony Rendon scored Bryce Harper on yet another fly out. The come back effort was mostly complete, as the contest was now tied at three.
The Nats looked to Illinois native Sammy Solis to keep the game tied in the eighth and ninth innings. He surrendered only two hits, but one was an RBI double laced to left field by Albert Amora. Infielder Addison Russell scored and the Cubs won off that base hit, 3-4.
The Nats will look to take the decisive series on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. The rubber match will feature Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36 ERA) against Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 3.03 ERA), who will look to stay unbeaten in the 2016 campaign.