WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Call hit a game-ending homer leading off the ninth inning, and the Washington Nationals recovered after blowing a 3-0 lead to beat Chicago 4-3 on Thursday and take three of four from the skidding Cubs.
Call lofted the only pitch from Brad Boxberger (1-1) just inside the left-field foul pole and was greeted at the plate by exuberant teammates, who dumped a bucket of blue Gatorade on his head.
Washington led 3-0 after seven near-flawless innings by starter Patrick Corbin. The veteran left-hander had given up only one hit — a popup by Cody Bellinger that shortstop CJ Abrams lost in the sun — before allowing back-to-back singles to start the eighth. Manager Dave Martinez pulled him for Hunter Harvey, who quickly allowed the Cubs to tie it.
Pitching for the third straight day, Harvey gave up Trey Mancini’s double off the wall in right field — the Cubs’ first extra-base hit since Tuesday night — for Chicago’s first run. Miguel Amaya added a sacrifice fly and Nico Hoerner tied the game with a two-out RBI single.
Kyle Finnegan (1-1) gave up a walk and a double to start the ninth but retired the next three batters.
The Cubs went 1-6 on their East Coast trip and fell below .500 (15-16) for the first time since April 4.
Lane Thomas hit a three-run homer in the second inning off Jameson Taillon, who lasted only three innings in his return from a left groin strain. Javier Assad came on and faced the minimum in five innings of relief, allowing two hits.
Corbin, who led the majors in losses and earned runs allowed in 2022 and 2021, was outstanding for Washington, consistently throwing his fastball, slider and changeup for strikes to induce weak contact from the Cubs’ powerful lineup. He struck out six, walked none and was charged with two runs in seven-plus innings.
Corbin’s ERA dropped from 5.88 to 5.17. He has not taken the mound with an ERA under 5 since his second start of 2022.
Cubs: With Taillon activated from the IL, RHP Jeremiah Estrada was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. … RHP Kyle Hendricks (right shoulder strain) is set to throw a bullpen in Chicago to work on mechanics following his rehab start for Iowa on Wednesday.
Nationals: RHP Jake Irvin, recalled from Triple-A Rochester to make his major league debut Wednesday, will remain on the roster and could get another start, manager Dave Martinez said. … LHP Anthony Banda cleared waivers and was assigned to Rochester.
Cubs: Host Miami on Friday, with NL ERA leader Justin Steele (4-0, 1.49) opposing the Marlins’ Edward Cabrera (2-2, 4.67).
Nationals: At Arizona on Friday night. Josiah Gray (2-4, 2.67) is scheduled to start against Merrill Kelly (2-3, 3.06) of the Diamondbacks.