CHICAGO - Coming into today, the Cubs had only scored 10 or more runs once this entire season. They had scored one run or fewer in four of their last six games.
They put up 11 on Jordan Zimmermann and company tonight.
The Cubs had nine hits today, five of which left the ballpark. Three of those longballs came off Zimmermann, who worked just five innings and allowed a season-high eight runs, falling to 14-7 on the season with the loss.
"Zim left the ball up. This is a ballpark, you leave the ball up out over the plate, bad things happen," manager Davey Johnson said. "The first one was a bad curveball. (Nate) Schierholtz, two strikes, he's protecting. But it was a curveball up, belt-high, and that's what happens. Anytime you don't get ahead and leave the ball up, you're going to get hit."
Before the All-Star break, Zimmermann posted a 2.58 ERA in 19 starts with 0.68 homers allowed per nine innings. In six starts since, Zimmermann has a 6.75 ERA in six starts and has allowed 2.08 homers per nine innings.
What's been the difference?
"I know he feels good. He's not complaining about anything," Johnson said. "He feels pretty good. It's frustrating when you feel good and you're getting hit. It's all about making pitches, making pitches to set up pitches. Especially in this ballpark. You make a mistake here, anybody can get it.
"He's a tremendous pitcher. He's going to be fine. This was not good, obviously. But I think he came through it all right."
While Schierholtz had two homers and six RBIs and Donnie Murphy had two more homers, the Nationals as a team didn't register a single extra-base hit off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija.
They had just six hits overall, put just one runner in scoring position outside of Wilson Ramos' mammoth solo homer in the seventh and barely
"Well you have to tip your hat to Samardzija," Johnson said. "He pitched a heck of a ballgame. He's a tough competitor. Made good quality pitches all night and used his offspeed stuff to set up his fastball. He's a guy that can throw high 90s and locate all his pitches. He had a good slider. He pitched a heck of a ballgame."
Johnson seemed fine with the approach of his hitters today. He seemed to think Samardzija was just that good.
"When somebody's on like that, it's tough," Johnson said. "And he was definitely on. He didn't leave a whole lot of balls over the plate. He kept the ball down when he needed to. He just pitched a heck of a ballgame."
It's never a good feeling when you get beat by 10 runs by a team that's 16 games under .500. But that's what happened to the Nats tonight.
"As I've said all along, I like the talent we have," Johnson said. "But some of them have slow learning curves, and we're not as consistent as we should be. We have a few glitches with the pitching staff occasionally, but I still like this ball club."