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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Nationals 11, Cubs 6

By Bruce Levine


CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field:

How it happened: Former Cub Scott Hairston hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the seventh inning off worn-out left-hander James Russell. The homer broke a 6-6 tie after the Cubs had rallied back from being down 6-1. Russell has appeared in 64 of the team's 126 games. Manager Dale Sveum shuffled the lineup around for Wednesday's game, moving Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo into the No. 1 and 2 slots in the batting order. Rizzo produced immediate results with a solo home run in the first inning off Washington starter Ross Ohlendorf. Chicago starter Jake Arrieta was looking to continue his early dominance as a Cub. In his previous two starts, he had combined to give up only one run and four hits in 13 innings. The Cubs knocked Ohlendorf out of the game with a five-run fifth inning.

What it means: Arrieta gave up three second-inning runs, including one on a safety squeeze bunt by Ohlendorf. Arrieta's ERA with the Cubs shot up from 0.69 to 4.20 after Jayson Werth belted a three-run homer in the third inning. Arrieta lasted into the fifth inning, throwing 78 pitches. Rizzo hit his second home run of the game in the fifth inning, this time a two-run blast. The Cubs' first baseman has two multi-homer games in August, the other coming Aug. 1 against the Dodgers.

Outside the box: Castro and Rizzo had gone a combined 4-for-51 on the homestand before Sveum changed the batting order Wednesday. ... Infielder Luis Valbuena is ready for a rehab assignment after recovering from an oblique strain. ... After Rizzo's home runs, the Cubs had scored 43.8 percent of their runs in 2013 via the long ball, the highest ratio in the National League. Rizzo, who turned 24 on Aug. 8, became the second-youngest left-handed hitter in Cubs history to hit 20 or more home runs. ... The Cubs were 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position through five innings after going 4-for-37 in the first eight games of the homestand.

Up next: The Cubs close out their 10-game homestand with left-hander Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13) taking on Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93) on Thursday at 1:20 p.m. CT.