Nats held to one hit by Cubs pitchers

Nats held to one hit by Cubs pitchers

CHICAGO -- After getting shut out the night before, the Nationals were hoping to avoid a repeat, but after the first two innings, it appeared that Washington was not going to win Wednesday's ball game against the Cubs.

Nationals right-hander Zach Day and catcher Wiki Gonzalez were not on the same page from the very start. It got to the point where pitching coach Randy St. Claire had to visit the mound twice to make sure they were in sync.

"I had never thrown to Wiki," Day said. "We were not on the same page, but as the game got along, it was fine. We just worked through some things. It wasn't so much [he was asking me to throw something other than my sinkers]. It was just getting the signs down."

After the first two innings, the damage was already done. The Cubs had a nice lead, and the Nationals had no answers for rookie left-hander Sean Marshall and the Cubs bullpen as they were shut out by the Cubs, 5-0, in front of 39,757 fans on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.

It was the second consecutive game in which Washington was blanked by the Cubs. The Nationals have now lost four out of their last five games and dropped their record to 13-27.

The Nationals found themselves without a hit during the first five innings against Marshall. The first hit for the Nationals came in the sixth inning, when Alfonso Soriano led off with a single to left field. It ended up being the only hit of the game for Washington.

Marshall pitched six scoreless innings, struck out six batters and walked four. The Nationals twice had scoring opportunities in the fifth and sixth innings, but Marshall ended up striking out pinch-hitter Robert Fick and Marlon Anderson, respectively. Fick, who was making his debut, was ejected after the punch out.

"It don't seem like we put anything together as far as offense is concern," Robinson said. "It's not flowing."

Cubs relievers Bob Howry, Scott Williamson and Scott Eyre held Washington hitless the rest of the way.

The last time the Nationals scored was in the top of the sixth inning of Sunday's game against the Braves. Washington has been held scoreless for the last 21 innings. The last time the Nationals were shut out in consecutive games was on Aug. 27 and 28, 2005, against the Cardinals at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"It can't get any worse," second baseman Jose Vidro said. "We are struggling badly. It's not just the hitting. It's everything. No wins, no nothing."

Day wasn't as lucky as Marshall. He gave up four runs, three earned. By the time he left the game he threw 84 pitches.

The first run of the game came on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's error in the first inning. Michael Barrett hit a routine ground ball to Zimmerman, who booted the ball and allowed Juan Pierre to score from third.

In the second inning, the Cubs played small ball and scored three more runs. With Jacque Jones on third with one out, manager Dusty Baker put the squeeze play on, and Ronny Cedeno bunted the ball toward Day who tossed to Gonzalez, but the throw was too late as Jones scored on the play.

Four batters later, the Cubs had the bases loaded as Todd Walker singled to center field to drive in two runs for the second straight night.

"Some weird things happened in that inning," Day said. "In the four innings, the leadoff guy got on, and I was pitching put of the stretch. So I never got comfortable out there. The Cubs did a good job of putting the pressure on me."

Asked if any moves could be made to make the Nationals better, Robinson said, "You can do as much as you want to do. You want to go the extreme. You could do a lot as long as it doesn't create a lot of havoc. You can do anything you want to do, but it comes at a price, though."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.