Cubs Find New Way To Lose: Walkoff Wild Pitch Gives Nationals 5-4 Win

Can any of these guys pitch? The Cubs could use them. A George Washington mascot wins a race holding an American flag during a break in the game between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on July 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

It's gotta be the caps.

The Cubs lost at home on Memorial Day, 12-7 to the Astros, wearing those awful red-and-white truck-stop caps. (I'm surprised they don't have a mesh back and plastic snaps.)

Today, forced to wear them again on Independence Day, the Cubs lost to the Nationals 5-4 when Carlos Marmol wild-pitched Jayson Werth in from third base with the winning run.

That's a first this season. The Cubs have had back-to-back walkoff losses on the road on home runs (by the same person both time, Albert Pujols); they've had two different games they lost on the road 11-2, and one by 15-5. But a wild pitch walkoff in extra innings? New, and creative. And, it was after Marmol and Geovany Soto had basically let Werth take third base uncontested on a steal, after Werth had walked and been sacrificed to second.

So, maybe that is what we have to look forward to for the rest of this season: what other sorts of new and creative ways will the Cubs find to lose? At least they'll only have to wear the caps one more time, against the Reds at home on Labor Day. (Guess we have to chalk that one in the "L" column already.)

I'm certainly not against those types of caps and the purpose for which they are sold (to raise awareness and money for the Welcome Back Veterans Fund). But man, they've got to get a less-ugly (and less-red) design for the Cubs.

Casey Coleman actually threw fairly well after the first inning, when he gave up two runs. And the Cubs came back and took the lead on a play that's been more Cub-like in recent years: a popup by Alfonso Soriano that dropped untouched by Nationals Roger Bernadina, Danny Espinosa and Werth, that allowed two runs to score in the fourth inning.

The Cubs stretched the lead to 4-2 on a Soto single that scored Aramis Ramirez, but Carlos Pena was thrown out at the plate.

That would turn out to be important after Kerry Wood came in and seemingly walked everyone in sight and hit one batter; one of the walks scored the tying run. Meanwhile, the Cubs had only two further baserunners in the game after that sixth-inning run, both in a frustrating ninth inning. After Marlon Byrd led off with a single, Tony Campana failed to get a bunt down, instead hitting into a double play. Had the bunt been successful, Soto's following single would have given the Cubs the lead.

Props to James Russell for keeping the game close and sending it into extra innings. Russell has done an excellent job this year when used in the role for which he is suited -- relief.

Marcos Mateo gave up the walk to Werth and then had to leave the game after he threw the pitch that Livan Hernandez bunted for the sacrifice in the 10th inning. Via tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer:

Mateo elbow injury. Mri in next day or 2.

Presumably, this makes the decision easy tomorrow when Ramon Ortiz will be activated to start against the Nats; Mateo is likely headed to the DL. I've almost lost count of how many Cubs pitchers have been injured and/or been on the DL this season.

The loss snaps a seven-game winning streak for the Cubs in Washington that dated back to the 2009 season. Apparently the "no three-game winning streak" mantra of this season is so powerful that it breaks retroactive streaks in ballparks going back two years.

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