Nationals visit Cubs with both teams eyeing playoffs

Washington right-hander Joe Ross, who left his most recent start after getting struck on the right leg by a comebacker, is expected to return for a start Friday as the Nationals continue their three-game road series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals hammered the Cubs 9-3 on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, with Anibal Sanchez allowing just two runs (one earned) on one hit over 8 1/3 innings. It was Washington's 10th win in 12 games.

The Cubs didn't score until the ninth inning, but they still have won five of six after a spell of six losses in seven games. Chicago has lost just four of its past 20 home games.

"Stuff like that happens," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the blowout defeat. "You've just got to move it forward."

Ross (3-3, 5.48 ERA) exited his Monday outing against the host Pittsburgh Pirates after he was drilled by a fourth-inning drive. He threw a bullpen session on Thursday, and his leg looked recovered enough for him to make his next start on schedule.

Ross has all three of his wins this month, having allowed just one earned run in 21 1/3 innings in August (0.42 ERA).

Washington also got good news on ace Max Scherzer, who returned from the injured list Thursday and threw four innings of one-run ball in a no-decision at Pittsburgh. Scherzer, who had been out for a month due to an upper back ailment, played catch on Friday and felt no discomfort.

Scherzer is on his normal throwing program between starts.

The way the Nationals are scoring runs, they've offered plenty of support for their starters. Washington has 107 runs in the past 12 games, and on Friday afternoon, the Nationals looked alive and alert despite arriving in Chicago from Pittsburgh in the wee hours of the morning.

"It's just one of those things where you've got to suck it up," catcher Kurt Suzuki told MASN Sports. "It's baseball. It's part of the game. It's part of being on a baseball team. You've got to go out there, and when called on to do it, you've got to do it. That's how I was always brought up. You play when they tell you to play."

Tasked with slowing the Nationals on Saturday, the Cubs will send left-hander Jose Quintana (11-7, 3.91 ERA) to the mound. The 30-year-old veteran is 7-0 with a 2.96 ERA in his past nine starts, and he is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in four outings this month.

Quintana is coming off seven scoreless innings of five-hit baseball in his last outing, the Cubs' 7-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. The outing before that, he fanned a career-high 14 while allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings in a no-decision at Philadelphia.

He will be facing the Nationals for the first time in his career.

Ross is 0-2 with a 3.42 ERA in five career games (four starts) vs. the Cubs. He gave up a hit and got one out in a relief appearance against Chicago on May 17.

Chicago's Anthony Rizzo has five hits in 11 at-bats against Ross.

--Field Level Media
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