By Richard Kagan
Jon Lester gave it his all, and held the Nationals to one run. The Nationals had a handful of hits going into th 8th inning and the energy of the crowd was lifeless.
Bruce Harper’s mighty swing changed all that in a instant. He hit a hanging curve by C.J. Edwards, and the ball jolted to the upper deck and tied the game with a two-run homer.
Now, the score was 3-3 and it was anybody’s game. Two more batters reached and with two on, Ryan Zimmerman connected off of lefty Mike Montgomery as the ball sailed over the left field wall to make the score 6-3 Nationals. Just like that.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he thought his team would start to hit after being shut down for almost two games. And hit they did. Now, the series shifts to Wrigley Field and the friendly confines. If the Cubs win two games there, the series would be over. A split in Chicago, sends the series back to D.C. for the fifth and deciding game.
Willson Contreras hit a home run to tie the game early and Anthony Rizzo hit a two run homer to all but silence the Big Red crowd. Rizzo now holds franchise records for most HR’s in a playoff (6) and most RBI’s, (16).
The issue in this game is that hardly anyone else did any damage and the Cubs were holding onto a slim 3-1 with a sleeping giant across the way. Harper who had just 5 hits in 24 at-bats since coming off a knee injury and the all-star missed 42 games before the last days of the season. He connected off an Edwards mistake to tie up the game.
These Cubs don’t do anything easy. It would have been stunning to take a 2-0 lead back to Chicago and wrap this up before the home town crowd. Now, we have a ourselves a series. It wasn’t that left-hander Gio Gonzales pitched great. He didn’t finish the game. The Cubs could not get anything going to plate some runs. They had four hits late in game on three runs. You are just asking for trouble with that linescore. Washington made a few hits and some big ones count and now the series is even.
It will be good to go back to Wrigley with an opportunity to take control of this fairly evenly matched series.