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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Nationals 5, Cubs 4

By Bruce Levine



WASHINGTON -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

How it happened: In a battle of ex-teammates, the Cubs' Randy Wells and the nationals' Tom Gorzelanny each gave up a pair of two-run home runs. It was yet another disappointing outing for Wells, who only made it through four innings, giving up 10 hits. His outing could have been a lot worse but Washington was just 4 for 15 with runners in scoring position through the first six innings. Wells has now given up eight home runs in his nine starts, averaging just five innings per start with a 6.90 ERA. Two home runs gave the Cubs two comeback rallies. Carlos Pena's 18th home run tied the game 2-2 in the second. The red-hot Aramis Ramirez hit a 420-foot home run to center field -- his 14th of the season and ninth in his last 14 games -- to tie game 4-4 in the sixth. Washington's fifth and winning run came in an unconventional way as Michael Morse scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Wilson Ramos, who initally missed the squeeze sign two pitches earlier, swining away and fouling a pitch while putting Morse the runner in danger.

What it means: The Cubs have dropped three straight in Washington and five of their past six games. They have fallen a season-low 18 games below .500.

Outside the box: Manager Mike Quade said infielder Jeff Baker could be ready in the next day or two. He is still recovering from a sore back suffered on Tuesday night when he slipped trying to turn a double play. Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano took steps in their hopes of returning to the mound. Dempster may throw a side session on Thursday and pitch Saturday. Zambrano was to throw a side session in Chicago on Wednesday which would be a step back to the rotation after the All-Star break.

Next: The Cubs' Matt Garza (4-7, 3.77) goes against the Nationals' Livan Hernandez (5-8, 3.73) at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday.