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Thru 6: Nats' bats explode

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I mentioned earlier this afternoon that the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field and that could lead to some big blasts tonight. It has, but most of them have come from the Nationals, who have taken a commanding 9-2 lead on the Cubs.

This game was knotted 1-1 and looking like a pitchers’ duel in the fourth, but then Josh Willingham took Carlos Zambrano deep to left. Over the ivy. Over the bleachers. Onto Waveland Avenue. Truly a tape-measure blast.

The bigger blast, though, came one inning later from Elijah Dukes. The Nats had just knocked Zambrano out of the game after he put five straight men on base (including a bases-loaded walk to Willingham). The crowd booed vociferously as Zambrano walked off the field, careful not to make any outlandish display of emotion. The boos, though, got even louder when reliever Aaron Heilman served up a first-pitch grand slam to Dukes, giving Washington a 9-1 lead.

All that should have made life easy on Garrett Mock, who cruised through five innings. But the young right-hander continues to have trouble the deeper he goes into starts, and tonight was no different. Pitching with an eight-run lead in the sixth, he just allowed the Cubs to score three runs on a walk and three hits. Mock couldn’t get through the inning, so Tyler Clippard had to come on and bail him out.

So as we head to the seventh, Washington still holds a seemingly comfortable 9-4 lead.

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Mark Zuckerman

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