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Nationals bullpen blows two-run ninth-inning lead against Cubs, lose 5-4

Nationals bullpen blows two-run ninth-inning lead against Cubs, lose 5-4

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jon Jay hit a go-ahead two-run double during a three-run ninth-inning rally against Blake Treinen, lifting the Chicago Cubs over the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Thursday.

Tommy La Stella drove in a run with a two-out single against Treinen (0-2), and Jay followed with a hit to right-center that brought home Javier Baez and La Stella.

Wade Davis struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 16th save after Felix Pena (1-0) worked the eighth.

Rookie Jeimer Candelario, who started for the injured Kris Bryant at third base, broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh by launching his first career homer off starter Joe Ross.

Manager Dusty Baker was ejected for the first time in his two seasons with the Nationals after arguing a third-strike call in the sixth.

Washington took a 4-2 lead in the seventh on Anthony Rendon's two-run homer and Brian Goodwin's RBI single.

Candelario was hit by Treinen's fastball in the left knee to start the ninth-inning rally. Candelario appeared to be in significant pain and was visited by a team trainer, but stayed in the game. He went for an X-ray after the win.

The Nationals blew their 13th save this season, tying the Mets and Phillies for most in the National League. Six pitchers have at least one save for Washington, and four of them also have at least two blown saves.

The win split the four-game series and kept the defending World Series champions from falling under .500.

Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, is expected to miss at least a couple of games after spraining his right ankle in an 8-4 loss Wednesday.

Trea Turner stole two bases, bumping up his total to seven in the series and 35 on the season. He entered the day tied for the NL lead with Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras threw out two attempted base stealers, including Turner at third base in the first.

Both teams scored a single run in the first inning before the starting pitchers dominated.

Ross allowed two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. After allowing Contreras's RBI single in the first, Ross didn't allow a hit until the sixth or a run until Candelario's shot.

Cubs starter Jon Lester gave up Ryan Zimmerman's RBI single in the first, but then blanked Washington over the next five innings. He struck out seven and allowed three hits. Over his last four starts, Lester is 2-0 with 2.42 ERA. He entered with a 5.49 road ERA this season.

Nationals left fielder Ryan Raburn struck out swinging in the sixth, but replay showed he made contact with Lester's pitch. Baker argued with first base umpire David Rackley before his ejection.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said that with a day off Monday, he may let Bryant rest until Chicago hosts Tampa Bay Tuesday. ... SS Addison Russell (shoulder) batted fifth and finished 0 for 3 with a walk after not starting the previous three games.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-4, 2.50 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season as Chicago faces Cincinnati on Friday. The Cubs are 5-1 against the Reds in 2017.

Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (6-5, 5.1.5) opens a three-game series Friday at St. Louis against RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 3.12).

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.