WASHINGTON — Wade Davis struck out big league batting leader Ryan Zimmerman with runners on second and third to blunt Washington’s ninth-inning rally, and the Chicago Cubs held off the Nationals 5-4 Monday night.
In jeopardy of being shut out for the first time this season, the NL East-leading Nationals scored four times in the ninth. Their comeback began against Hector Rondon and continued when Davis became the Cubs’ eighth pitcher of the game.
With Washington down 5-3, Bryce Harper’s single loaded the bases with two outs. Davis threw a wild pitch that scored a run before striking out a swinging Zimmerman, who’s hitting .344. The final pitch bounced, and catcher Willson Contreras zipped a low throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to close out the victory.
Contreras hit a leadoff home run in his first career game-opening at-bat and Eddie Butler (4-2) worked five scoreless innings to keep the Cubs ahead.
Gio Gonzalez (7-2) allowed a run and two hits, striking out eight over six innings.
Rizzo began the day in a 2-for-20 rut, so manager Joe Maddon moved the big first baseman out of the leadoff spot and put another unlikely hitter there. It paid off immediately when Contreras hit his eighth homer, a drive about 10 rows deep into the seats in left.
Chicago made it 2-0 on Albert Amora Jr.’s squeeze bunt single in the eighth. The Cubs three more in the ninth, capped by Javier Baez’s two-run double.