Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
The Nats look to make it 6 of their last 7 tonight at Nationals Park.
Morse will, however, shift to right field for this game, with Jayson Werth sliding over to center field and Tyler Moore getting a rare start in left field. That means Bryce Harper is on the bench. I wouldn't read a whole lot into that; he's probably just getting the night off against a lefty.
Edwin Jackson, coming off an eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance against the Cardinals, gets the start for the Nationals, who are looking to win for the sixth time in their last seven games since that five-game losing streak of a week ago.
Updates to come, please check back...
CHICAGO CUBS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Chance of storms, 85 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to LF
CF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
3B Ryan Zimmerman
RF Michael Morse
1B Adam LaRoche
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Tyler Moore
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
RF David DeJesus
3B Luis Valbuena
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Starlin Castro
C Welington Castillo
CF Brett Jackson
2B Darwin Barney
LHP Chris Rusin
HP Clint Fagan
1B Mike Estabrook
2B Jerry Layne (cc)
3B Bill Miller
7:08 p.m. -- And we're underway on another muggy night in the District. Not a particularly big crowd on hand, which probably isn't a huge surprise since school opened today in a lot of areas, as did the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
7:34 p.m. -- That was quite a bottom of the first inning for the Nats. After Jayson Werth led off with a single (what, you expected him to make an out?!) Ian Desmond crushed an opposite-field shot for his 20th home run of the season. The Nats kept the pressure on rookie Chris Rusin, with Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche also singling and Danny Espinosa drawing a walk. Morse got a little too greedy, though, and tried to go first-to-third on LaRoche blooper to left. He was thrown out easily by Alfonso Soriano. (Clearly, Michael wasn't around here in 2006 when Soriano had 22 outfield assists; the guy has a pretty good arm.) So despite four hits, a walk and 31 pitches piled up by Rusin, the Nats came out of this with just the two runs on Desmond's homer. They lead 2-0 after one.
8:00 p.m. -- Rough night to be Chris Rusin, huh? The Cubs rookie faced 11 batters and retired only two of them. Jesus Flores led off the second with a homer into the Red Porch. Edwin Jackson singles. Jayson Werth doubled. Ian Desmond doubled home both of them, and that's when Dale Sveum finally put Rusin out of his misery and summoned Jaye Chapman from the bullpen. Chapman was making his MLB debut. Oof. It's 5-0 after two, and this is going to be a long one tonight, folks.
8:08 p.m. -- Edwin Jackson, meanwhile, is cruising along, having retired nine of 10 batters faced through three scoreless innings. The Cubs are now using their third pitcher of the night, Blake Parker. Yikes.
8:20 p.m. -- Well, they didn't score in the bottom of the third, but the Nats did collect two more hits (from Jackson and Werth) to bring their total to 10 in only three innings. Werth is already 3-for-3. Seriously, he could wind up 9-for-9 by night's end.
8:29 p.m. -- Wait, the Cubs aren't quite dead yet. They recorded three hits off Jackson in the top of the fourth, plating their first run of the night. But then Jackson did what so few of his fellow pitchers haven't been able to do all year: Stop the running game. He actually picked of Starlin Castro to end the top of the fourth.
8:45 p.m. -- Sweet. Fancy. Moses. This is turning into an embarrassment for the Cubs. Rafael Dolis, their fourth pitcher in as many innings, served up homers to both LaRoche and Moore. It's now 8-1 after four.
9:03 p.m. -- What? The Nats went down in order in the bottom of the fifth? How can this be? Somebody better pay the price for this offensive futility. If I was Rick Eckstein, I'd sleep with one eye open tonight.
9:23 p.m. -- And now Jackson (after striking out five consecutive batters) finally fades and lets four straight Cubs reach in the sixth. It's now 8-4, and here comes Christian Garcia to make his big-league debut.
9:34 p.m. -- Barkeep, a round of cortisone shots for all my friends! Zimmerman goes deep for the 18th time this season and puts the Nats up 9-4. We move to the seventh, and Bryce Harper is in the game, as is Tom Gorzelanny. Nice easy MLB debut for Garcia, who got a pop-up on three pitches.
9:55 p.m. -- Oh good, Tom Gorzelanny issues three walks in the top of the seventh. That drew some serious grumbling from the crowd of 17,648 (smallest here since April) but Gorzelanny somehow got out of the inning without allowing a run. Meanwhile, it turns out the five home runs hit by the Nationals tonight are the most ever hit by a D.C. ballclub in a home game. That's the most ever hit by the home team at Griffith Stadium, RFK Stadium or Nationals Park. Impressive. Still 9-4 at the seventh-inning stretch.
10:07 p.m. -- Harper introduces himself to this game with a double into the left-field corner, then advances to third base on a pitch that just barely got away from catcher Welington Castillo. That set the stage for Werth to deliver his fourth hit of the night, bringing Harper home and extending the Nats' lead to 10-4 through seven innings.
10:14 p.m. -- Alfonso Soriano greets Ryan Mattheus with a homer in the eighth. 10-5 now.
10:22 p.m. -- And LaRoche goes deep again. Second time tonight. Fourth time in four days. 27th of the season. It's 11-5.
10:38 p.m. -- Ballgame. Nats win 11-5. Braves lose to the Rockies. The lead in the NL East is up to a season-high 7 1/2 games. The magic number for the division title is down to 20.