• July 31, 2021

Nationals beat Cubs 4-3 after both settle on deadline

WASHINGTON – Josh Bell and Luis Garcia hit home runs, and the Washington Nationals defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Friday night, hours after both franchises completed takedowns at the trade deadline.

The cores of two recent World Series champions – Chicago in 2016, Washington in 2019 – were spread out among various contenders as both teams recognized the need to rebuild. Both did a painstaking job, with Washington trading eight veterans in six trades in a span of two days. Chicago also made a half dozen trades in the 24 hours leading up to the deadline.

By the time the weekend series began just hours after the deadline, the Cubs’ mainstays Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo had been traded. Also Nationals stars Max Scherzer, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner.

Instead, rosters were renewed, as well as opportunities, both on Friday and for the rest of the season.

“I think the issue now is opportunity,” said Nationals reliever Kyle Finnegan, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many days. “You’re going to see different faces, new guys, guys pitching in different places, hitting in different places, guys starting out and it’s exciting to see the players take advantage of those opportunities and see what they can do.”

Garcia, a 21-year-old second baseman who will likely get extended playing time with Turner traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, quickly took advantage with a solo home run off Chicago’s Jake Arrieta (5-10) in the second inning.

So did Paolo Espino (3-2), whom Washington didn’t name as the night’s starter until after he traded Jon Lester to St. Louis in the afternoon. Espino pitched 5 1/3 innings, his career high, and gave up his only career on a Rafael Ortega double in the third. He allowed four hits and struck out six for his first win since June 28.

“Whatever role they give me, I’m going to go out there and do my best and give my 100%, give the team a chance to win,” Espino said. “That’s my goal. Be it to start, to ease, to close, anything.”

The Cubs went 4-3 on a two-run single by Patrick Wisdom in the eighth before Washington rookie Gabe Klobosits escaped the jam. Finnegan allowed an opening single in the ninth before inducing a double play groundout and a lineout to end it.

“It’s a little different not seeing the guys and the names and the big horses that we’re so used to seeing, but I’m happy with the way the guys fought tonight.” Cubs manager David Ross said.

Arrieta, who was activated from the disabled list on Friday, allowed two runs in four innings in his first start since July 6.

Bell hit his 17th home run in the fifth, a single shot by Adam Morgan to make it 3-1. Yadiel Hernández added an RBI double in the sixth.


Cubs: Drafted contracts from OF Johneshwy Fargas, RHPs Manuel Rodríguez and Michael Rucker, OF / INF Andrew Romine and Triple-A Iowa 1B Frank Schwindel. Both Rucker and Rodríguez made major league debuts, with Rucker allowing a run in two innings and Rodriguez striking out two on a perfect eighth.

Nationals: Retired C Tres Barrera from Triple-A Rochester and selected the Klobosits and INF Adrián Sánchez contracts from Rochester.


Washington signed first-round pick Brady House. The Georgia Winder-Barrow High School shortstop was the 11th pick in this year’s MLB Draft.


Washington INF Starlin Castro was suspended for 30 games without pay and fined an undisclosed amount for violating MLB’s policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Castro will be ineligible for the postseason under the terms of the suspension and will have to undergo evaluation and treatment, MLB said.

The Nationals said they would release Castro after his suspension was completed. “We take all allegations of abuse and harassment very seriously,” the team said in a statement. “We fully support the Commissioner’s decision.”


Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (12-4, 3.85 ERA) is 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA in eight career starts against Washington.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (5-8, 3.80), who pitched five scoreless innings Monday in Philadelphia, makes his second start since returning from the disabled list.

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