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Nationals 5, Cubs 4: Not The Way To End A Road Trip

Man, talk about dramatic. But not in the way we would have wanted.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I've rewritten the lede to this recap several times, so if it reads messy or somewhat out of sequence, please forgive me. So much happened in the Cubs' 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Nationals that I'm sure I'll wind up leaving something out. Here goes, though.

Jayson Werth's RBI single in the 12th scored Michael Taylor with the winning run in a two-run Nats rally after the Cubs' 22-year-old tandem of Albert Almora Jr. and Addison Russell had given the Cubs a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning.

In the end it was a hit batsman leading off the 12th by Trevor Cahill that helped lead to the Nats' game-winning rally.

All of that happened after the Cubs dramatically took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth, courtesy of Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer off Oliver Perez in the ninth inning, after Kris Bryant led off the inning with a double.

And that was unusual for Rizzo. After hitting very well against lefthanders in 2015, he came into this game batting just .184/.303/.355 (14-for-76) against LHP, with three home runs out of his total of 14. But that homer was crushed to the back of the right-field bullpen [VIDEO]. (And you can tell there that Rizzo knew it was gone.)

Here's a photo of Rizzo smacking the homer from someone who was at the game:

But after Rizzo's homer, Hector Rondon issued a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper, who took second on an infield out and scored on a single by Wilson Ramos. It was the second blown save in as many days for Hector, who had been perfect in 11 opportunities before this series.

This game certainly had a playoff vibe around it. Here's the rest of Wednesday afternoon's happenings.

When this game began, the Cubs looked like they wanted to run themselves out of every scoring opportunity they had. Perhaps some of the baserunners they lost might have scored, and they'd have had a lead going into the eighth, and the home run Pedro Strop allowed to pinch-hitter Stephen Drew in the eighth inning wouldn't have looked like a game-winner until Rizzo's blast.

So let's have a look back at some of those baserunning faux pas.

After taking a 1-0 lead on Ben Zobrist's ninth homer of the year, the Cubs had another baserunner right away on a Jason Heyward double. Two straight hits off Stephen Strasburg!

Too many riches, I guess. Heyward took off for third with one out, and was thrown out easily.

Miguel Montero singled leading off the second. He's probably the slowest runner on the team. He tried to take second on a fly to center by Almora. No dice:

Granted that Revere doesn't have a reputation for having a good arm, but I don't think Montero should have taken that chance.

Meanwhile, the Nats had tied the game in the bottom of the first inning on a very wild pitch by Jason Hammel. But after that Hammel settled down and retired 10 straight after Wilson Ramos led off the second inning with a single. The Cubs threatened in the seventh when Almora doubled with one out, but he was stranded. Hammel gave up one more hit in the seventh, but got out of the inning unscathed. He was outstanding in this one, throwing seven innings and allowing just five hits and a walk, with the one run his own fault with the wild pitch.

The Cubs did win a challenge in the sixth when Werth tried to stretch a single into a double. He was called safe at second by umpire Dan Iassogna, but on review Zobrist's tag on the throw from Kris Bryant was ruled to have just beaten Werth to the bag.

Meanwhile, the Nats took the Cubs out of several potential rallies with double plays, four in all. Then the Cubs turned one in the 10th after a walk to Michael Taylor, but In the end it was bullpen failure that doomed this one to the "L" column. There's no doubt the Cubs could use some help at the back end of the bullpen where Adam Warren, in particular, hasn't done the job hoped for.

Cubs walk watch: three in this game, 271 for the season, 4.23 per game. Pace: 686.

This game felt more important than it probably is in the grand scheme of things. If this had been a playoff game between these two clubs, it would have been an instant classic. Instead, it's just another regular-season loss that will probably be shaken off by the Cubs by the time they land at O'Hare later this evening. They finish the regular-season competition with the Nats with a five games to two advantage, and with the knowledge that they very well might see this bunch again in October. And remember, these Cubs are still really, really good:

Well, that's all I've got. Yeah, I know, it sounded clunky. But so was this game. Hopefully, the homestand will be better than this.

The Cubs have Thursday off, their last off day before the All-Star break. They'll play the first of 24 games in 24 consecutive days Friday against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, with Jake Arrieta facing Francisco Liriano.