- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Bryce Harper thought he might have legged out an infield hit with the bases loaded and positioned the Washington Nationals for a big inning on Thursday night.

He was called out, and the Nationals’ slide continued.

Jake Arrieta pitched six strong innings, and the Chicago Cubs made a pair of first-inning runs hold up as they defeated the Nationals 2-1.

Washington’s lone run scored on Harper’s groundout on a bang-bang play in the sixth inning.

“It was pretty close,” Harper said. “Of course, when we go back and look at the video, I’m safe. But close call. Bases loaded with one out and Ryan Zimmerman coming up, I think that would have changed the momentum of the game, definitely.”

Washington manager Matt Williams had used his challenge when Danny Espinosa was called out on a steal attempt at second base in the fourth, another close play.

“We don’t want to burn one unless we feel confident about him being called safe, but they ruled that he was out, so we don’t have a challenge left,” Williams said.

After Harper’s groundout, Zimmerman was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but then Anthony Rizzo made a jumping catch on Ian Desmond’s liner.

Harper’s RBI snapped an 18-inning scoreless streak for Washington, which has lost six of seven.

Arrieta (5-4) rebounded from a pair of subpar outings, pitching six innings and giving up a run and six hits. Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his 10th save.

Washington’s Anthony Rendon, who missed 53 games due to injuries, had two hits in his season debut. He was at the plate with runners on first and second with two outs when Cubs catcher David Ross picked Clint Robinson off first to end the game.

“That’s just one that can’t happen,” Robinson said. “I really can’t explain it. I wasn’t really trying to go anywhere. I just couldn’t get back fast enough.”

Gio Gonzalez (4-3) allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. He struck out six and tied a season high with four walks.

The start of the game was delayed nearly two hours by rain.

Gonzalez had thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings over his last four starts against Chicago, but the Cubs ended that streak in the first.

After a walk sandwiched between two singles loaded the bases with no outs, Junior Lake walked to force home a run. Another run scored when Starlin Castro grounded into a double play.

ESCOBAR LEAVES EARLY

Washington’s Yunel Escobar left after trying to check his swing on a strikeout in the first inning. Rendon, who began the game at second, moved over to third. “His right wrist wasn’t feeling good,” Williams said. “They took an X-ray. He’s fine, so there’s no issue there. He just tweaked it trying to check up.”

TRAINER’S ROOM:

Cubs: OF Chris Denorfia (left hamstring strain) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee.

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (strained left trapezius) played catch on flat ground for the second straight day. … RHP Doug Fister (right forearm tightness) and LHP Sammy Solis (left shoulder inflammation) threw bullpen sessions of 40 and 35 pitches, respectively. Neither reported any issues.

UP NEXT:

Cubs: LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (0-0, 2.30) allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings of a 2-1 Cubs’ loss to the Nationals on May 25. He’s limited opponents to a .182 batting average.

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (1-2, 2.59) faces Wada and the Cubs for the second time in 11 days. He gave up a run in five innings to pick up the win on May 25.

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