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Nats fight back, but get dropped in extras


CHICAGO -- The Nationals showed how much fight they had in them Monday night, but it wasn't enough as Aramis Ramirez's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th inning helped the Cubs win, 4-3, at Wrigley Field.

With right-handers Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps unavailable because they have pitched often, manager Jim Riggleman said before the game how he needed the rest of his bullpen corps to step up.

In Monday's game, Sean Burnett and Tyler Walker pitched well. Even Brian Bruney was solid in the ninth inning, but things started to unravel for Bruney in the next inning when Chicago scored the winning run.

Ryan Theriot led off with a single, but after striking out Jeff Baker for the first out, Bruney walked Derrek Lee on four pitches. Marlon Byrd came to the plate and blooped a single over the head of second baseman Cristian Guzman to load the bases. Bruney couldn't throw a strike after that, walking Ramirez on four pitches as Theriot scored the winning run.

Bruney has now walked 12 hitters in 9 2/3 innings this season.

"I tried as hard as I could out there. It's not a lack of effort thing. It wasn't my night," Bruney said. "The guys played good. I was only the one out there throwing that baseball when the run scored. I put this one on me.

"Unfortunately, this is not a good feeling to have in a locker room full of guys [playing hard] and you go out there and walk a guy to win the game. I'm obviously not happy with myself. We have to dig back in and grind for the next time."

Left-hander John Lannan started the game for Washington and got off to a slow start, as Chicago took a 3-0 lead after three innings. In the second inning, with Byrd on second, Ramirez hit a ball to center field that Nyjer Morgan should have caught, but it went over his head for an RBI double.

After getting Alfonso Soriano to fly out, Lannan walked the next three hitters he faced, including right-hander Carlos Silva, to force home Ramirez.

In the next inning, Baker scored the third run of the game on a single by Byrd.

Despite his problems in those two innings, Lannan lasted six -- giving up the three runs on five hits, walking five batters and striking out one. But don't tell Lannan he had a quality start.

"It [wasn't good]," Lannan said. "I fell apart in the second [inning] and that can't happen. The goal is to finish the game strong. I'm sick of having those mediocre innings when things get away from me. I never walked three in a row and I walked the pitcher with the bases loaded. That's disappointing. I'm just battling every game so far. I'm not going to force it, but I'm waiting for it to click and have a strong outing from start to finish."

Catcher Wil Nieves said part of the problem is that Lannan has yet to locate his sinker this season.

"He hasn't found his sinker -- consistently," Nieves said. "He is battling and keeping us in the game. When he finds it -- I know he will -- he is going to be better. Today he kept us in the game -- only three runs."

But the Nationals would come back and tie the game at 3 off Silva. In the fourth, Josh Willingham walked with the bases loaded to push Morgan home. Adam Kennedy followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Ian Desmond.

Two innings later, Nieves tied the score at 3 when he drove in Willingham with a single to center.

With the loss, the Nationals are 10-10 for the season.

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

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