WASHINGTON — Cubs manager Joe Maddon protested Chicago’s 5-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday night after twice coming out to complain about Washington closer Sean Doolittle’s delivery.
After eight solid innings by Stephen Strasburg, Doolittle pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine chances, but Maddon thought he was using an illegal delivery. Maddon believed the left-handed Doolittle was tapping his right toe on the ground before coming to the plate.
Cubs reliever Carl Edward Jr. was informed at the end of spring training that his delivery, which featured a similar toe-tap, was illegal — a ruling that miffed Maddon and the Cubs. Mariners reliever Cory Gearrin was warned by umpires during a game Monday night regarding the same violation, even though he said he has used the same delivery for years.
Maddon’s protest will go to MLB for review. If MLB determines Doolittle violated the rules and the violation adversely affected the Cubs’ chances of winning, the game could be replayed from the time the protest was lodged.
A day after the Cubs scored 11 runs against five Washington relievers in the final three innings of a 14-6 win, Strasburg gave most of the bullpen a needed night off. He allowed two runs — one earned — and struck out seven without a walk while throwing 93 pitches.
Juan Soto had two hits and drove in three for Washington.
David Bote homered in the sixth to pull the Cubs, who have lost three of four, within 5-2.
Jon Lester, who hadn’t given up an earned run in his last three outings, a span totaling 19 2/3 innings, allowed five runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.
He had only allowed a total of five earned runs over his first seven starts of the season.
Kris Bryant was 0 for 4 and reached on a fielder’s choice, ending his streak of reaching base safely at 26 games, and Javier Baez ended his hitting streak at 15 games.
Brian Dozier’s homer gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Soto’s two-run double capped a three-run third inning and he added an RBI-single in the fifth.
Strasburg didn’t allow a hit until Kyle Schwarber’s single to start the fourth. The Cubs’ first run came with two outs in the fifth on consecutive passed balls by Kurt Suzuki.