Rapid Reaction: Nationals 9, Cubs 1

WASHINGTON -- The Chicago Cubs fell 9-1 on Wednesday as the Washington Nationals crushed six home runs for the second consecutive night.

HOW IT HAPPENED: The struggling Cubs offense was little match for dominating Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. The left-hander didn’t allow a hit until Darwin Barney singled to lead off the sixth inning. Cubs starter Chris Volstad saw his brief two-start win streak come to an end as he gave up three home runs in a four-batter stretch of the third inning. With his parents in attendance, the Nationals’ Bryce Harper hit two home runs. Anthony Rizzo ended the shutout with a ninth-inning home run, his 11th.

WHAT IT MEANS: With six more home runs Wednesday, the Nationals have hit 12 long balls over the past two games. As the series continues, Jeff Samardzija’s tough-luck outing Monday in Washington looks even more spectacular. Samardzija gave up just one run over seven innings to a red-hot slugging offense while striking out eight in the Cubs’ eventual 2-1 defeat.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Cubs manager Dale Sveum wasn’t even around to see the Cubs’ first hit of the game. He was ejected by home-plate umpire Larry Vanover in the bottom of the fifth inning for apparently yelling from the dugout. It was the fourth ejection this season for the first-time manager.

OFF BEAT: The Cubs have gone through plenty of down years but for whatever it’s worth, they can still manage to deliver at least one hit a game. The Cubs haven’t been no-hit since the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax fired a perfect game against them on Sept. 9, 1965. The 7,475 games between no-hitters is a major league record that lives to see another day.

UP NEXT: The Cubs will send right-hander Justin Germano (2-5, 6.30 ERA) to the mound against the Nationals on Thursday in the finale of the four-game series. Washington will counter with right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (9-8, 3.01) in the 6:05 p.m. CST start from Nationals Park.