Russell delivers game-winner to beat Nats
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Herrera scored on a walk-off double by Addison Russell with two outs in the ninth to lift the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Nationals and even the series. It was Chicago's 23rd one-run game and fifth walk-off win, both tops in the Major Leagues.
With the game tied at 2 and one out against Matt Grace, Chris Coghlan singled to center, but was forced at second on Herrera's grounder. Herrera was safe as shortstop Ian Desmond threw the ball high for an error. Russell then doubled into the gap in right-center.
"Addison coming up huge -- he was due for a big day today," Kris Bryant said. "That was awesome to see that out of him. He's only 21 years old. The kid's going to be special."
Bryce Harper and Bryant, who played baseball growing up in Las Vegas, staged their own home run derby at Wrigley Field. Harper hit his National League-leading 17th homer leading off the seventh, connecting against Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks, to tie the game at 1. Denard Span then gave Washington the lead with his blast with two outs in the eighth off Pedro Strop.
"I don't think he hit that as well as he wanted to," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "But it's Wrigley. It happens."
But Bryant tied the game at 2 when he opened the eighth with a monster shot to left that appeared to hit the top of the new video board. It was Bryant's second home run in as many days. Bryant's homer was projected by Statcast™ to land 477 feet away, which would be the fourth-longest home run this year that Statcast™ has measured. Only Seattle's Nelson Cruz (483), Toronto's Josh Donaldson (481) and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (478) have gone further.
"It was really pummeled," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That got everybody stirring a little bit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blown away: On Monday, Harper famously said, "I don't need wind," when asked if he checked the flags on the center-field scoreboard. He needed it Tuesday. His homer to tie the score at 1 in the seventh definitely got a boost. Harper lifted a high fly to left field and the wind did the rest, blowing it into the bleachers.
Glove work: The Cubs rank second in the National League in errors, which is not good, but the infielders were sharp on Tuesday. Russell made a sliding stop of Ryan Zimmerman's grounder in the second and got to his feet in time to throw him out. Wilson Ramos then hit a grounder to Bryant at third who made a bare-handed grab and threw him out. The Nationals had a runner at second and two outs when Span hit the ball toward right-center, but shortstop Starlin Castro stopped it to save a run from scoring.
"I rely on my defense," Hendricks said. "They all know that and they're on their toes. I'm trying to get ground balls. Early in the year, when I wasn't making pitches, they weren't finding guys. Now when you make pitches and hit corners, they'll go to guys more often. There were some awesome plays back there."
Fundamentals: Already trailing 1-0 in the first, the Nationals avoided further damage by executing perfectly on a double steal/rundown play. With Anthony Rizzo at third, Miguel Montero took off for second before Jordan Zimmermann threw home and was caught in a rundown. Rizzo broke for the plate, but was tagged out to end the inning as second baseman Danny Espinosa fired to Ramos.
"He's become unbelievable. In the field, he made some unbelievable plays at second. On top of that, maturing at the plate. He obviously is a talent at 21. God, [at 21] there's no chance I'd be doing that. He's fun to watch and he's going to be really good for a long time." -- Hendricks, on Russell's game-winning hit
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs' Dexter Fowler hit his second home run leading off a game this season and 11th of his career. This year, he also did so May 8 against the Brewers. With the blast, the Cubs have homered in a season high six straight games.
Desmond extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning double off Hendricks. Desmond entered Tuesday batting .325 with two homers and seven RBIs during the streak.
"I feel good," he said. "I'm sticking with my same approach and I'm working on a few things. I feel like I'm starting to find the barrel a little more often."
Nationals: Max Scherzer (5-3, 1.67 ERA) goes for the visitors in the marquee matchup of the top two prizes on the free-agent market over the winter at 8:05 p.m. ET. This will be the fourth head-to-head meeting between the pitchers, with Scherzer holding a 2-1 record with a 2.75 ERA in the other three.
Cubs: Jon Lester will close the series, making his 10th start of the season. The lefty is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts this month after opening the year 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in four April outings. He's 2-0 in three career starts against the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
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