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Cubs come back to beat Nationals 6-4 in 10 innings

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Cubs come back to beat Nationals 6-4 in 10 innings

Pinch-hitter David Bote had an RBI double and scored in the 10th inning as the Chicago Cubs came back to beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.

Bote, who hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 4-3 win over the Nationals on Aug. 12 in Chicago, knocked a 100 mph fastball from Jimmy Cordero (1-2) into right field to score Albert Almora Jr. Bote came home on a single by pinch-hitter Taylor Davis.

Daniel Murphy went 1 for 5 with a strikeout in his first return to Washington since the Nationals traded him to the Cubs on Aug 21.

Chicago has won two straight and leads the NL Central by 4 games over Milwaukee.

Washington has lost three straight to fall to 69-72. The Nationals are three games under .500 for the first time since April 30.

Pedro Strop (4-2) pitched a scoreless ninth, and Jesse Chavez earned his third save.

Washington took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Mark Reynolds belted his 13th homer of the season, a two-out, two-run shot to left field.

Murphy scored on Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly to tie it at 3 in the fifth.

Spencer Kieboom had a career-high three hits for Washington.

Stephen Strasburg pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Nationals, allowing six hits while walking three and striking out six. He gave up three runs, two earned, while throwing 111 pitches -- his most since tossing a season-high 115 on May 20.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said OF Kyle Schwarber (back) is day to day. Schwarber left Wednesday's game after hitting his 25th home run. He pinch-hit in the sixth Thursday, reaching on a walk. ... RHP Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) will throw from the mound Sunday, but his long-term plan is still uncertain. "Every time he does something we have to evaluate it afterwards and make sure everything is well," Maddon said. "That's where it's at right now."

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman was rested and used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (15-5, 3.53 ERA) will start in Washington for the first time since the 2017 NL Division Series. Lester is 2-2 with a 4.25 ERA in seven career starts against the Nationals.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross makes his season debut and first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2017. Ross is 0-2 with a 3.44 ERA in three career starts versus the Cubs.

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Max Scherzer is back and could tilt the postseason race

Max Scherzer is back and could tilt the postseason race

PITTSBURGH -- Everyone wanted Max Scherzer back on the mound. He’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball, undoubtedly a key in the National League pennant race, a preeminent figure on the Nationals. And, he talks a lot.

“I think a lot of guys are ready to get him out of the dugout,” Patrick Corbin said Wednesday. “He’s kind of getting on nerves. He’s taking pre-workout [drinks] in games he’s not even playing. That’s just him. No, we’re excited. He’s the best in the game.”

He was back, finally, Thursday in Pittsburgh. Scherzer threw a 95-mph fastball at 7:29 p.m. At 8:49 p.m., Wander Suero jogged in from the bullpen because Scherzer had finished for the night. Four innings, 71 pitches, 48 strikes, one earned run. Scherzer was effective, not dominant. He’s in full reboot mode following two simulation games and being almost a month out from his previous start.

“Just wanted to come out here, not really empty the tank [Thursday] and just pitch,” Scherzer said. “I can’t get hurt again. That’s just the reality of this. Got out here, was able to go four innings and get a good feel for this of getting back in there. Just getting back in the game action because now it’s real. You can simulate games all you want, but simulated games aren’t real.”

What matters is that he’s back. Scherzer’s first of two tuneups -- he faces Baltimore next on Aug. 28 after dealing with the hapless Pirates -- yield to huge September outings. The Mets. The Braves -- twice. The Phillies. Tight races, big nights, why he makes $210 million. He’s thought about that, “in some ways.”

“But right now I’m living start to start,” Scherzer said. “I’m living really day-by-day of what I can and can’t do and trying to communicate with the trainers and strength coaches of, hey, what exercises can we do to get back out there and get this thing as strong as possible. [Thursday] was a good step. I’ve got a lot more work in front of me.”

He’s been good, but not a powerhouse in the postseason for the Nationals. His 3.72 ERA reflects that. Game 5 against the Cubs in 2017 is the last time Scherzer took a mound in the playoffs. He gave up the lead on three hits, two earned runs and a strikeout. He allowed just one earned run in his start earlier in the series. The loss cost Dusty Baker his job. It also installed another nasty Game 5 chapter in the Nationals’ short existence. 

His nearest shot at redemption could well ride on what he does the rest of the way. Scherzer will still have a limit on his pitch count against Baltimore. He should be loose by his third start -- with the ever-reaching caveat, all is dependent on how he feels the day after an outing. 

"Hopefully [Friday], he wakes up, he's well-recovered and we move forward," Davey Martinez said.

Scherzer’s second stint on the injured list could cost him a chance at another Cy Young Award. He remains top-five in ERA, batting average against, WHIP, strikeouts, opponent OPS and more. He is No. 1 -- by far -- in fWAR despite the time missed. Hyun-Jin Ryu is fifth in that category.

And, the time away didn’t temper his work on the bases. Scherzer beat out a double play in the second inning, then went first to third on a Trea Turner double. He later picked up a single to right field. 

Scherzer has also considered the idea he may need to be different the remainder of the season. His velocity was strong against the Pirates during the Nationals’ 7-1 win. But, that’s never been the problem during this process. Almost half of his pitches against Pittsburgh were four-seam fastballs. They averaged 94.5 mph. 

It’s the other stuff. Throwing a slider with everything he has. Snapping curveballs and managing changeups. Scherzer was pitching more than throwing with pure might in his first start back. 

He hopes to feel well Friday morning after sleeping as much as possible on the flight to Chicago, then more once the team lands. Afterward, he’s back in the weight room to strengthen the area around his rhomboid muscle. His pitch count will go up next time. The ability to “empty the tank” will, ideally, follow. As will a postseason appearance -- maybe.

“This is a good start, but I’m not out of the woods,” Scherzer said.

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Max Scherzer impresses in 7-1 victory over Pirates

Washington Nationals Roundup: Max Scherzer impresses in 7-1 victory over Pirates

Check out the latest news and notes surrounding the Washington Nationals. 

Player Notes: 

1B Howie Kendrick went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in a 7-1 triumph over the Pirates on Thursday. He drove in a run with a groundout in the first inning. He plated another pair of RBI in more impressive fashion in the eighth by cranking a two-run bomb that broke open a tight game. Kendrick has generated an elite .323/.376/.558 slash line this year but his counting stats are lagging behind due to sporadic playing time. He has 14 home runs and 53 RBI in 290 plate appearances. 

3B Anthony Rendon went 2-for-5 and clubbed a solo home run in a win over the Pirates on Thursday. His ninth-inning shot off reliever Chris Stratton extended the Nationals' lead to 7-1 in the lopsided contest. He also doubled on the evening and continues to rake at a near-MVP level. He owns a .324/.402/.613 slash line with 28 home runs, 101 RBI and 91 runs scored in 113 games.

SP Max Scherzer made his return from the injured list on Thursday and gave up one run in four innings against the Pirates. The only blemish on his line was a solo dinger by Adam Frazier. Scherzer struck out three, walked one and yielded four total hits. He departed the game with a lead but didn't stick around long enough to get credit for the win. This was just his second start since the All Star break due to a back injury. He is 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts this year. He has an unbelievable 192:26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 138 1/3 innings.

RP Roenis Elias (hamstring) could throw a bullpen session this weekend. Elias was slated for mound work Thursday, but instead threw off flat ground. Assuming he comes out of Thursday unscathed, he should get in a pen session this weekend. The left-hander went down with a hamstring strain in his Nationals debut back on August 3. The Nats should have him back for the stretch run.

Injuries: 

RP Hunter Strickland: Nose, day-to-day

2B Brian Dozier: Paternity, day-to-day

RP Joe Ross: Leg, day-to-day

RP Sean Doolittle: Knee, out indefinitely 

RP Roenis Elias: Hamstring, late August

RP Jonny Venters: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, August 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: Foot, late August

SP Austin Roth: Shoulder, late August

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, out indefinitely 

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, out indefinitely 

Coming Up:

Friday 8/23: Nationals @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field

Saturday 8/24: Nationals @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field

Sunday 8/25: Nationals @ Cubs 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field

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Source: Rotoworld