Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats try to salvage one game from the Cubs tonight.
For that to happen, Jason Marquis will need to pitch well, something he finally showed glimpses of five night ago in Philadelphia even though he still took his sixth loss in six starts. Marquis only allowed one run and four hits in that game. Of greater concern was the fact he walked four and needed 94 pitches to make it through five innings and thus didn't return for a sixth. Better efficiency tonight would be a positive step for the Nats and for Marquis.
Ian Desmond returns to the lineup after sitting out the last two games with a minor right thumb ailment. The rookie shortstop's presence in the lineup is important for this team, especially with Josh Willingham done for the year and Adam Dunn slumping big-time. Over his last 26 games, Desmond is hitting a stout .375 with three homers, 10 RBI, six stolen bases and a .952 OPS. In short, the Nats really need him right now.
Check back throughout the evening for updates...
CUBS at NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM, WWFD-820 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees, Wind 6 mph out to RF
CF Nyjer Morgan
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Roger Bernadina
RF Michael Morse
2B Adam Kennedy
C Wil Nieves
P Jason Marquis
RF Kosuke Fukudome
SS Starlin Castro
CF Marlon Byrd
3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Micah Hoffpauir
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Blake DeWitt
C Geovany Soto
P Ryan Dempster
7:00 p.m. -- It's turned into a busy evening filled with breaking news. If you haven't seen/heard/read it yet, Rob Dibble will not be appearing on the MASN broadcasts of at least the next two games in the wake of his comments on the radio about Stephen Strasburg. Also, Nyjer Morgan has been suspended seven games by MLB for intentionally throwing a ball in the stands in Philadelphia in the middle the ninth inning of Saturday night's game and striking a fan. He's appealed the suspension and remains in the lineup tonight. More details on both of those items on the homepage. Meanwhile, Josh Willingham had arthroscopic surgery today on his left knee to clean up a medial meniscus tear. Recovery time is four to six weeks. Also, Jordan Zimmermann has officially been named as tomorrow night's starter (no surprise).
7:07 p.m. -- We're underway with a fastball from Jason Marquis that Kosuke Fukudome fouls off.
7:19 p.m. -- It wasn't exactly a clean top of the first, but Marquis escaped it without any damage. Fukudome drew a leadoff walk, then was awarded second base when Marquis was called for a balk. After Starlin Castro struck out, Marlon Byrd hit a routine grounder to third, but Ryan Zimmerman's sidearm throw was high and thus he was charged with an error. Aramis Ramirez sent a deep fly ball to left that Roger Bernadina tracked down at the warning track. Micah Hoffpauir then flied out to center to end a strange first inning.
7:30 p.m. -- Marquis has thrown two innings now and has yet to allow a hit. Recorded a 1-2-3 second, though Geovany Soto smoked a line drive right at Zimmerman for the final out. So we go to the bottom of the second of a scoreless game.
7:34 p.m. -- The Nats go down in order in the second, with the heavily slumping Adam Dunn striking out looking. Dunn is really in a funk right now, and you've got to wonder if it's starting to get in his head. After a bad round of BP this afternoon, he chucked his bat way down the third base line out of frustration. Stan Kasten immediately went over to talk to him.
7:52 p.m. -- Still scoreless after three. Nats had a chance in the bottom of the third when Wil Nieves was awarded a single on a little dribbler, then took second on Marquis' sac bunt. But Nyjer grounded out to first to end the inning and strand Nieves at second.
8:10 p.m. -- Your Adam Dunn slump update: With two strikeouts already tonight, he's now 7 for his last 56 with 27 strikeouts. The only thing falling faster than Dunn's batting average is the value of his next contract. (Rimshot. Thanks for coming! You've been great! Be sure to tip your waitresses!)
8:16 p.m. -- Look out, folks: Jason Marquis has thrown five scoreless innings and now has allowed just one run over his last 10 innings of work. Impressive. Meanwhile, there's still no score as we go to the bottom of the fifth.
8:24 p.m. -- Not exactly another stellar offensive showing from the Nats. They've amassed one infield hit (a questionable one at that) off Ryan Dempster in five innings. Dempster has faced only one over the minimum and has struck out six.
8:33 p.m. -- OK, this is getting kind of scary. Marquis has tossed six scoreless innings. After giving up 26 earned runs in his first 16 1/3 innings this season, he's now given up one over his last 11 innings. Pretty remarkable.
8:53 p.m. -- Here's one: Ryan Desmpster tossed seven innings of two-hit ball ... and Jason Marquis outlasted him! We go to the eighth of a scoreless game.
8:58 p.m. -- Here's another one: Marquis departs to a standing ovation from the crowd at Nationals Park, with one out in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game. You really don't ever know what you might see at the ballpark on any given night. Tyler Clippard now in to face Starlin Castro.
9:03 p.m. -- And after all that, Castro doubles off Clippard, scoring Tyler Colvin, putting the Cubs up 1-0 and suddenly putting Marquis in line for the loss. Six more outs and his record falls to 0-7. Wow.
9:08 p.m. -- And after Aramis Ramirez clubs a two-run homer off Clippard, it's now 3-0 and fans are streaming for the exits. Oy.
9:24 p.m. -- Now Soriano homers off Sean Burnett to make it 4-0 in the ninth.
9:38 p.m. -- It's over. Cubs win 4-0 and sweep the series. Marquis pitched a gem but still falls to 0-7. The Nats have now scored five runs in their last four games. And three of those came on Adam Kennedy's ninth-inning double last night.