WASHINGTON (AP)—In a rough season for the Chicago Cubs, there was finally something to celebrate.
Down 8-0 after four innings, the Cubs engineered their largest comeback in more than three years and salvaged the final game of a four-game series with the Washington Nationals.
“When you’re down 8-0, it’s really easy to roll over,” Barney said.
“I wouldn’t say that I thought the game was over after they scored eight runs, but history shows it’s tough to come back.”
It was the first time Chicago came back from eight runs down since May 30, 2008, when it beat Colorado 10-9 according to STATS LLC, and it’s the largest lead blown in a loss in the history of the Montreal/Washington franchise.
This is the second straight night a team blew an 8-0 lead. Cincinnati was up 8-0 in the fifth inning and beat St. Louis 9-8 in 13 innings on Wednesday.
A night after winning a game on an unlikely suicide squeeze, Washington manager Davey Johnson was taking the loss hard.
“I’m gonna have a hard time sleeping tonight on that one,” Johnson said.
Each Washington starter had at least one hit as the Nationals built an 8-0 lead in the fourth inning on Thursday.
Chicago scored six runs in the sixth and two runs in the seventh to tie it.
The Cubs took a 9-8 lead in the top of the eighth, and the Nationals tied it at 9 in the bottom of the eighth.
Carlos Marmol(notes) pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save in 23 chances. He hit Rick Ankiel(notes) with a pitch leading off the inning, and walked Laynce Nix(notes). But Marmol retired Roger Bernadina(notes) on a fly to right to end the game.
Chicago scored its most runs since the Cubs scored 12 on June 16. Five of their past six games have been decided by a run.
“You’re so proud of them for continuing to play,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “Now let’s make it easier on ourselves and try to play a little smarter baseball and continue with that kind of effort.”
“99 percent of the time, you win the game when it’s 8-0,” Hernandez said.
Johnson accepted the blame for the defeat—saying he was trying to save a tired bullpen.
“I stayed with Livo—and I got burnt,” Johnson said. “I gambled. I gambled. That’s what I did.”
The Cubs tied the score at 8 in the seventh.
The Nationals scored a season-high seven runs in a third inning that featured three infield singles, two hits—a double and single—from Bernadina and two errors—one by starting pitcher Matt Garza(notes)—and a ground ball by Ankiel that bounced up and hit Chicago first baseman Carlos Pena in the face. Garza was charged with all seven runs—six earned. He left the game after facing eight batters in the inning and not retiring a single one.
In the six-run inning, Alfonso Soriano(notes) drove in the first run with an RBI single, two scored on a double by Barney and Blake DeWitt(notes) had a pinch-hit three-run home run that hit the right field foul pole. It was his second homer of the season.
In 5 2-3 innings, Hernandez allowed six runs and 10 hits.
In the seventh inning, Aramis Ramirez(notes) walked with one out against Todd Coffey(notes), who relieved Hernandez. Pena homered to the Washington bullpen in right — his 19th of the season—tying the score at 8.
Ramirez’s RBI single in the top of the eighth gave Chicago a brief 9-8 lead.
Morse’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth made it 9-9.
NOTES: Chicago RHP Carlos Zambrano(notes), who’s on the 15-day disabled list with lower back soreness, will make a rehab start for Class A Peoria on Friday. Quade is targeting his return for the third game after the All-Star break. … Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster(notes) threw on the side before the game, and Quade said that if he feels well on Friday, he’ll start Saturday in Pittsburgh. Dempster missed his start on Monday with back pain. … Washington C Ivan Rodriguez(notes) was a late scratch with a right oblique injury. Rodriguez said he iced the injury several times during the game, and hopes he won’t have to go on the disabled list.