WASHINGTON -- The Nationals exploited a Cubs weakness and ran wild on the basepaths Tuesday night, setting a Nats record, and tying the franchise mark, with seven stolen bases to add another dimension to their top-ranked offense.Washington's running game combined with another strong performance from Max Scherzer led the Nats
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals exploited a Cubs weakness and ran wild on the basepaths Tuesday night, setting a Nats record, and tying the franchise mark, with seven stolen bases to add another dimension to their top-ranked offense.
Washington's running game combined with another strong performance from Max Scherzer led the Nats to a 6-1 victory in a matchup of the past two Cy Young Award winners in the National League.
"You have to have different games," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Sometimes you have to win with speed and contact. Sometimes you have to win with power. So it's nice to know you can call upon both those games whenever you need them."
Scherzer recorded as many hits at the plate (two) as he allowed (two) in six innings of one-run ball, and he drove in a run on a single. He struck out six to snap his streak of six consecutive double-digit strikeout games, but he lowered his ERA to 2.06.
"I made what I had work tonight," Scherzer said. "Coming off a couple outings in a row where my pitch count's really gotten up there, I didn't really have great fastball command tonight, but I was able to use my offspeed to kind of collect outs when I needed to. And I didn't walk anybody. With a lineup like that, if you don't walk anybody, that's a big part of keeping them at bay."
Cubs starter Jacob Arrieta, meanwhile, issued six walks and was charged with six runs (five earned) on six hits in four-plus innings. Chicago's defense, stellar in the series-opening win, was not sharp, committing two key errors. After Kristopher Bryant's triple in the first plated Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could not mount any sort of rally against Scherzer, who retired his last 10 batters.
"A lot of the damage was self-inflicted -- the walks, stolen bases, a couple errors," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It was a non-Cub-like game on the field. They took advantage of their running game, and they took advantage of a couple mistakes we made. We hurt ourselves. … When you're a .500 team, there's a reason for it. We deserve to be a .500 team."
• Sloppy game out of character for Arrieta, Cubs
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trea makes history, again: Nationals shortstop Trea Turner matched his own franchise record with four stolen bases, and he did so in just three innings. After reaching base in his first two plate appearances, Turner swiped both second and third base, which helped create a pair of runs. Turner set the mark less than two weeks ago, when he stole four bases against the Mets on June 18.
"That's something [first-base coach Davey Lopes] and even Dusty is trying to harp on me, [Brian Goodwin], [Michael Taylor], just to be aggressive and not make dumb mistakes," Turner said. "Not run into outs, and put pressure on the other team. That's an example of it right there."
Said Maddon: "The best antidote is to keep that guy off the bases."
With the combination of Arrieta and Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, who entered Tuesday 0-for-24 against would-be basestealers, the Nats took advantage. Taylor stole a pair of bases, and Anthony Rendon added a steal as well, all leading directly to runs.
However, Montero can't take all the blame. It's a combination. Arrieta is slow to the plate.
"It really sucked, because the stolen base goes on me," Montero said. "When you really look at it, the pitcher doesn't give me any time. It's like, 'Oh, yeah, Miggy can't throw anybody out.' Yeah, but my pitchers don't hold anybody on. It's tough." More >
Replay review: The Nationals had runners at the corners and two outs in the third when Daniel Murphy hit a grounder to second baseman Thomas La Stella, who threw wide to Rizzo. The first baseman could not keep his foot on the bag to make the play, and first-base umpire Tim Timmons called Murphy safe, giving the Nats a 2-1 lead. The Cubs challenged the ruling, and after review, the call stood.
"Love it. That way I get to talk trash, too, especially when you hit a ball hard up the middle and not just a cheap hit. When pitchers ever hit, you get to run your mouth a little bit more." -- Scherzer, on his two hits
"I love speed. And when you have it, you gotta use it." -- Baker
"That's the million-dollar question right there. If I knew the answer, I'd be talking to the guys to figure it out and get it going. It's tough. It's one of those days, you get beat and go home. We played sloppy -- we all did. You go home and you think about it, and it's going to be hard to sleep on it. It was just a bad game. I respect Scherzer. I've known him for a long time and he's a great pitcher, but I felt the game could be a little bit closer." -- Montero, when asked how the Cubs can be more consistent
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The seven stolen bases against Montero are the most in a game by a Cubs catcher since Joe Girardi allowed eight on June 3, 1990, against the Cardinals.
Cubs:John Lackey gets the start for the third game of this four-game series against the Nationals on Wednesday night at Nationals Park. He's posted quality starts in his last two outings and has fared better on the road, posting a 4-4 record and 4.40 ERA. However, he hasn't had much luck vs. NL East teams this year, going 0-3 in four starts with a 5.32 ERA. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT.
Nationals:Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for Washington. He has not made it out of the sixth inning in any of his past three starts, but he has pitched well against the Cubs in his career with a 1.95 ERA in four starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.