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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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Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Andy Martino of SNY refutes the reports that the Nats are out on Harper

Despite Mark Lerner's comments to NBC Sports Washington that the team hasn't been in recent contact with Bryce Harper and has filled out the roster, SNY's Andy Martino says not to give up hope.


"Do not believe that the Nationals are out on Harper," Martino said. "People I talk to around the situation are saying don't rule the Nationals out until the moment that Harper signs elsewhere."


Martino believes that the clearest options may not be what they seem.


"The Phillies of course are pursuing him, but I continue to hear they have a tough road to get Harper to come to Philly," he said. "The Phillies are possible but I don’t know that I would call them frontrunners."

After the news of Manny Machado signing with the Padres, all eyes turn to Bryce Harper and how long this continues to drag out. 

The clock is ticking.

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How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

How to watch NBC Sports Washington's full interview with Nationals owner Mark Lerner

When Nationals principal managing owner Mark Lerner  see his team lose, he has a postgame ritual that rivals one of the most ordinary passionate fan.

“ I go into a closet and scream a little after,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas in an exclusive interview in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Friday. “No, no. That’s one thing that’s good about baseball. You’re going to play the next day. But I go home. I’m totally depressed. I won’t turn on the sports news or anything and get up the next morning, it’s a new day, get up and go after it again today. When I’m sitting down there, I’m very passionate as a fan. I’m yelling at the umpires like everybody else. I want to win. I hate losing exhibition games let alone regular-season games.”

Lerner also spoke about Bryce Harper's future - or lack thereof - with the team, Anthony Rendon and what he expects from the team this season.

The interview is now available in full on the MyTeams app, which can be downloaded here.

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