NLDSL Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper help Washington Nationals even series vs. Chicago Cubs

By David Driver, The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 7, 2017 at 9:29 PM
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WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman each hit a homer in a five-run eighth inning as the Washington Nationals stormed back to defeat the Chicago Cubs 6-3 in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Saturday and even the series.

Harper hit a long two-run homer off Carl Edwards, Jr. with one out in the eighth to tie the game at 3. Adam Lind led off with a pinch-hit single and was replaced by pinch-runner Victor Robles, who scored when Harper launched a shot into the right-field stands.

Edwards then walked Anthony Rendon and the Cubs brought in lefty Mike Montgomery, who gave up a single to Daniel Murphy as Rendon took second with one out. Zimmerman (2-for-4) then lofted a three-run homer just over the fence in left off Montgomery to give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.

Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for the Nationals to get his first postseason save. He allowed a one-out single by Addison Russell before getting the last two outs on a double-play grounder off the bat of Ben Zobrist, once a free-agent target of the Nationals.

Cubs starter Jon Lester gave up two hits and one run with two walks and six strikeouts. Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless seventh for the Cubs before Edwards came on in the eighth.

The Washington starter was Gio Gonzalez, who got the start in Game 2 as ace Max Scherzer deals with a sore hamstring. Matt Albers took over the sixth for Gonzalez, who worked just 4 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his only 2016 postseason start.

Kris Bryant (2-for-4) of the Cubs doubled and scored on an Anthony Rizzo homer in the fourth inning. Bryant also had a broken-bat single in the eighth off Ryan Madson before he was erased on a double play.

Washington, which had just two hits in Friday's loss, had just two hits before getting four in the eighth inning on Saturday. The Nationals won the NL East title for the fourth time in six years in 2017, but have yet to win a postseason series.

Rendon, who made an error Friday that led to two unearned runs, hit a solo homer down the right field line with two outs in the first to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead off Lester.

It was the first hit for the Nationals in the series since Michael A. Taylor had a single in Game 1 on Friday.

Willson Contreras of the Cubs tied the game with a solo homer to left off Gonzalez to lead off the second for his second postseason homer.

Chicago made it 3-1 in the fourth as Rizzo hit a two-run homer to right. The homer stood following a crew chief review after a Cubs fans in the front row caught the ball with his bare right hand just above the fence.

Lester made his 20th career postseason start. He retired 10 batters in a row before Zimmerman led off the fifth with a single up the middle. Zimmerman stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Taylor walked with two outs and pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick walked to load the bases.

But leadoff man Trea Turner struck out on a 94 mph fastball to end the threat in the fifth.

Gonzalez, went five innings and allowed three runs on three hits with six strikeouts and two walks. His last playoff start at home came in 2012 when he couldn't hold a 6-0 lead in a Game 5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

NOTES: Washington RHP Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.51), who has been bothered by a sore right hamstring, is slated to pitch Game 3 on Monday in Chicago. He will be opposed by Cubs RHP Jose Quintana, who posted a 7-3 mark with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts after he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox. He has never faced Washington. ... Nationals manager Dusty Baker held the same job with the Cubs from 2003-06, and took Chicago to the National League Championship Series in his first season. ... Washington assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones, suspended indefinitely with pay by the team Friday over legal issues, played with the Cubs from 2006-07. ... Washington 2B Daniel Murphy (1-for-4) has reached base in 21 games in row in the postseason.

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