Cubs continue streak, take down Nationals for sixth straight win
CHICAGO -- Addison Russell is enjoying his high-pressure situations at the plate.
Russell dropped in a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh inning and the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 8-5 Saturday for their sixth straight victory.
Russell is now 10-for-32 (.313) with 16 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
"It's fun," Russell said. "Just try to slow the game down, just try to do your best to perform out there and just try to have some fun with it."
And Russell said he benefited from having the previous day off. The shortstop had the chance to visit with family and chatted with teammates.
"It was nice to gather my thoughts," said Russell, who is hitting .237.
Kris Bryant homered and Ben Zobrist had an RBI for the sixth game in a row as the Cubs took the matchup of NL division leaders.
Chicago has won 10 of 11 and improved the best record in the majors to 23-6. The Nationals have the league's second-best record but have lost three straight.
Cubs LF Kris Bryant (left), CF Dexter Fowler (center) and RF Jason Heyward come together.
Russell finished with three RBIs. It was 5-all when the Cubs loaded the bases with two outs, and Russell hit a flyball to right that landed barely fair as outfielder Bryce Harper ran toward the brick wall in pursuit. A review confirmed the ball was fair.
"I got as close as I could, put my glove out, it nicked off it and things happened," Harper said. "I'm not going to run into a wall and not play for another year and not feel healthy."
Zobrist singled home a run in the eighth. He has 15 RBIs in his last six games.
Adam Warren (3-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win. Hector Rondon earned his sixth save in as many chances.
Cubs closer Hector Rondon (left) with Addison Russell.
Sammy Solis (0-1) allowed two runs in the seventh.
Ryan Zimmerman beat out a potential inning-ending double play throw to first to drive in the tying run in the seventh for Washington. Ben Revere scored after he led off with a triple. A review confirmed
Zimmerman was safe.
The Cubs scored three times in the sixth for a 5-4 lead. Pinch hitter Ryan Kalish hit a two-run, bases-loaded single after Russell's RBI single.
Bryant hit his fifth homer of the season, connecting in the fourth off Gio Gonzalez.
"Everybody participated," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I love when everybody takes a piece of the ownership. It really matters within the clubhouse."
Harper had a sacrifice fly in the third off Jason Hammel.
Hammel allowed a season-high three runs and matched a season high of four walks in five innings.
"It was one of those seesaw games. We really haven't had many of those this year," Hammel said. "We've been kind of blowing people out, but today it was never quit. Obviously, I wasn't at my best today. It all gets back to fastball command."
Gonzalez gave up five runs and seven hits -- both season highs -- in 5 2/3 innings. He entered the game with a 1.15 ERA, second in the NL.
Baker, who managed the Cubs for four seasons, knows a lot about the lack of fair territory near the Wrigley Field foul poles. He hardly was sore after Harper was unable to make the catch on Russell's go-ahead double.
"Nothing outside of running into that wall and hurting himself," Baker said when asked what more the outfielder could've done. "That ball blew 20 feet."
Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy and 3B Anthony Rendon were "under the weather," Baker said. Murphy, the NL's top hitter (.406), was out of the starting lineup while Rendon batted sixth instead of his usual No. 2 spot. Baker said he couldn't afford to rest both. Murphy pinch hit in the ninth. Stephen Drew started at second.
Cubs: C Miguel Montero (lower back tightness) will increase his hitting Sunday, Maddon said. Maddon has no timetable for Montero's return, but he said the catcher is doing better. Montero went on the DL April 25.
RHP Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.35 ERA) will start for the Nationals in their series finale Sunday against the Cubs. RHP Jake Arrieta (6-0, 0.84) has recorded 17 consecutive victories for the longest streak by a Cubs starter in franchise history.