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Cubs 7, Nationals 5: Winning REAL ugly

A four-run blown lead, shoddy defense, mediocre relief work... and a win anyway.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday evening in Washington, the Cubs blew a four-run lead, had two different pitchers record blown saves, played some not-so-great defense... and won anyway, 7-5 in 11 innings.

Now, part of that is because the Nationals are a very bad team, worse than the Cubs. But give credit to the Cubs for coming back from those not-so-good things and recording a victory. Baby steps, and all.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this mess.

In the second inning with one out, Franmil Reyes and Nico Hoerner singled. Nelson Velázquez was the next hitter [VIDEO].

That missed being a three-run homer by about two feet. Had that happened, it likely would have helped the Cubs avoid the mess of the later innings. But, at least they had a 1-0 lead.

That lead increased to 3-0 in the fourth. Seiya Suzuki led off with a walk and one out later, Hoerner doubled him in [VIDEO].

One out after that, P.J. Higgins singled to make it 3-0 Cubs [VIDEO].

Two innings later, Reyes made it 4-0 [VIDEO].

Reyes is making Jed Hoyer look real good with his acquisition on waivers:

That was before Reyes made outs in his last three PA of the game, but still, 9-for-26 (.346) is pretty, pretty good. In addition, there were shots of him smiling and laughing in the dugout during this game. He appears to be a guy who loves playing baseball and is a good teammate. Well done, Jed.

While all this was going on, Justin Steele was dominating the Nationals. That is, until the sixth inning when a walk and a single put runners on first and second.

Then Steele tried to pick Victor Robles off second, and threw the ball away. I have seen Cubs pitchers try to do this several times this year and I do not believe it has ever been successful, not even once. Just don’t do it! It reminds me of this:

“But that trick never works!” Indeed, Rocket J. Squirrel.

Anyway, that missed pickoff put runners on second and third, and the runner on third scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1, an unearned run off Steele. If not for that, maybe the Cubs win the game in regulation. Overall, though, Steele’s pitching was excellent:

Erich Uelmen replaced Steele in the seventh and, well, that didn’t work out. Uelmen allowed a single and double and it was 4-2. Rowan Wick was summoned, somewhat surprisingly since he’s been closing lately. He eventually got out of the inning with a double play, but then served up home-run balls to Luke Voit and Lane Thomas in the eighth and the game was tied. Those were the first runs Wick had allowed since July 9; he’d had 11 straight scoreless outings coming into this one.

Neither team scored in the ninth, so the game went on to extras.

In the 10th, Zach McKinstry singled, moving the Manfred man (Ian Happ) to third. Then Rafael Ortega hit a ground ball [VIDEO].

Interference was called on McKinstry, so he was out, and Happ, who appeared to have scored, had to return to third, with Ortega safe at first. Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then this happened [VIDEO].

A run scored on Willson Contreras’ fly ball, but ... what are you thinking, Rafael Ortega? You’re already in scoring position! Stay at second!

Anyway, the inning was over with the Cubs holding a 5-4 lead. Brandon Hughes entered for what would have been his first MLB save, but he allowed a run-scoring single that tied the game, so on to the 11th it was.

With Contreras as the Manfred man, Patrick Wisdom gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].

You can see there — and also in other Contreras at-bats — that he’s still running kind of gingerly after turning his ankle in the Field of Dreams Game. I suspect he won’t play this afternoon. Contreras also got into it with a fan behind the Cubs dugout in the 10th inning:

Back to that 11th inning: Wisdom was wild-pitched to third and Suzuki scored him with this RBI single to make it 7-5 [VIDEO].

So now it was up to yet another Cubs pitcher going for his first MLB save, Mark Leiter Jr. He got a ground out to lead off the inning (deflected off his own glove), then struck out Yadiel Hernandez and Joey Meneses to end it. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].

That was a nasty slider for the game-winner. The Cubs messed up in several areas in this game, but had enough timely hitting and good relief pitching to post the win.

They will go for their fourth straight series win Wednesday afternoon in Washington. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and former Cub Cory Abbott gets the call for the Nats. Game time is 12:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Today’s BCB game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.