WASHINGTON (AP) — Alfonso Soriano scored the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning on a throwing error by catcher Kurt Suzuki, and the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 Sunday.
The Cubs didn’t have a baserunner through the first five innings and trailed 1-0 entering the eighth before coming back in the deciding matchup of a three-game series.
Facing Nationals closer Rafael Soriano (0-1) in the ninth, Alfonso Soriano singled and took second on a single by Julio Borbon. After Ryan Sweeney struck out, both runners took off on a double steal with Welington Castillo at the plate.
Suzuki’s throw hit Castillo’s bat. The ball veered well to the left of third base and into foul ground, allowing Alfonso Soriano to scoot home.
James Russell (1-0) worked the eighth and Kevin Gregg got three outs for his sixth save.
Ryan Zimmerman drove in the run for the Nationals, who went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. After missing the first two games of the series with an ingrown toenail, Washington’s Bryce Harper went 0 for 2 with two walks and is mired in 4 for 35 skid.
Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez retired the first 15 batters he faced, finished with seven innings of two-hit ball and left with a 1-0 lead. But the bullpen couldn’t make the advantage stand up.
Gonzalez walked one and struck out six. He was flawless until Dioner Navarro opened the sixth by beating out a grounder deep in the hole that shortstop Ian Desmond gloved before opting not to attempt a throw.
The Cubs then used a walk and a single to load the bases with two outs before Gonzalez retired Anthony Rizzo on a grounder to first base.
Gonzalez concluded his performance with a perfect seventh.
In the eighth, however, Chicago pulled even against reliever Drew Storen. Navarro drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Travis Wood, who advanced on a sacrifice and scored on a two-out single by Starlin Castro.
Cubs starter Scott Feldman gave up one run, five hits and three walks in six innings.
The Nationals hit two doubles and drew two walks in the first inning, but they left the bases loaded after Zimmerman doubled in a run.
Washington also stranded a runner in scoring position in the second and third innings. By that time, Feldman’s pitch was at 61.
NOTES: Cubs 3B Luis Valbuena, who jammed his right pinky finger Saturday, was available to pinch hit but did not play. … The Montreal/Washington franchise missed a chance to earn its 300th win against the Cubs. The teams next meet in Chicago for a four-game series August 19-22. … After going 3-2 on their homestand against Detroit and Chicago, the Nationals begin a West Coast trip Monday night with Jordan Zimmerman (6-1) on the mound against the Dodgers. … Travis Wood (3-2) will start for the Cubs on Monday night in the opener of a three-game home series against Colorado.
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