CHICAGO — A road swing that began with a flourish can’t end soon enough for the Washington Nationals.
Addison Russell dropped in a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh inning and the Chicago Cubs claimed their sixth consecutive victory on Saturday with an 8-5 victory.
Kris Bryant hit a home run and Ben Zobrist had an RBI for the sixth game in a row as the Cubs took the matchup of National League division leaders.
Chicago has won 10 of 11 and improved the best record in the majors to 23-6. The Nationals, who started their 10-game road trip 5-1, have the NL’s second-best record at 19-11 but have lost their last three games.
Washington heads home after Sunday’s game at Wrigley Field.
“Everything was just out of our reach,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “The ball just wasn’t bouncing our way today.”
Russell finished with three RBI. It was 5-5 when the Cubs loaded the bases with two outs and Russell hit a fly ball to right that barely landed fair as Bryce Harper ran toward the brick wall in pursuit. A review confirmed the ball was fair.
“I got as close as I could, put my glove out, it nicked off it and things happened,” Harper said. “I’m not going to run into a wall and not play for another year and not feel healthy.”
Zobrist singled home a run in the eighth. He has 15 RBI in his last six games.
Adam Warren (3-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Hector Rondon earned his sixth save in as many chances.
Sammy Solis (0-1) allowed two runs in the seventh.
“We played great, but they’re hitting right on the line,” Nationals second baseman Stephen Drew said. “It’s pretty frustrating. They caught some breaks.”
Ryan Zimmerman beat out a potential inning-ending double play throw to first to drive in the tying run in the seventh for Washington. Ben Revere scored after he led off with a triple. A review confirmed Zimmerman was safe.
The Cubs scored three times in the sixth for a 5-4 lead. Pinch hitter Ryan Kalish hit a two-run, bases-loaded single after Russell’s RBI single.
Bryant hit his fifth home run of the season, connecting in the fourth off Gio Gonzalez.
“Everybody participated,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I love when everybody takes a piece of the ownership. It really matters within the clubhouse.”
Harper had a sacrifice fly in the third off Jason Hammel, who allowed a season-high three runs and matched a season high of four walks in five innings.
Gonzalez gave up five runs and seven hits — both season highs — in 5 2/3 innings. He entered the game with a 1.15 ERA, second in the NL.
“It was tough for our bullpen,” Gonzalez said. “I put them in a very tough situation. I should’ve done a better job finishing my job.
Baker, who managed the Cubs for four seasons, knows a lot about the lack of fair territory near the Wrigley Field foul poles. He hardly was sore after Harper was unable to make the catch on Russell’s go-ahead double.
“Nothing outside of running into that wall and hurting himself,” Baker said when asked what more the outfielder could’ve done. “That ball blew 20 feet.”
Second baseman Daniel Murphy and third baseman Anthony Rendon were “under the weather,” Baker said.
Murphy, the NL’s top hitter at .406, was out of the starting lineup while Rendon batted sixth instead of his usual No. 2 spot. Baker said he couldn’t afford to rest both. Murphy pinch hit in the ninth.
Right-hander Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.35 ERA) will start for the Nationals in their series finale on Sunday against the Cubs. Right-hander Jake Arrieta (6-0, 0.84 ERA) has recorded 17 consecutive victories for the longest streak by a Cubs starter in franchise history.
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