Gomes’ RBI single in 7th lifts Cubs over Nationals 3-2

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON – Yan Gomes hit a tie-breaking single in the seventh inning against his former team and the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 on Wednesday to win the three-game series.

Franmil Reyes smacked a leadoff double off Jake McGee (1-3) in the seventh. McGee struck out the next two batters and right-hander Steve Cishek came on to face righty Gomes, who hit a soft liner to right on a 3-2 pitch, scoring Reyes.

“Cishek is definitely never a comfortable at-bat. You just have to try to zone him up, get yourself in a good count and that’s kind of how I went,” said Gomes, who played for the Nationals from 2019-21. “I think I would have walked if I take that pitch. You guys know me, I swing at everything. Just happy it went my way.”

Erich Uelman (1-1) pitched 2/3 of an inning for his first major league win. Steven Brault, who was activated from the COVID-19 injured list before the game, threw two scoreless innings and Rowan Wick pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

P.J. Higgins homered and Reyes had two doubles for Chicago, which has won four straight series.

Lane Thomas had two doubles for Washington and rookie Joey Meneses extended his hitting streak to 11 games for the Nationals, who have lost five of seven.

“I think we’re playing good baseball,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Our defense is playing a lot better. Today it was just, there was no run production. I thought we had a chance to win the game, we just couldn’t score runs.”

Cubs starter Drew Smyly, who had tossed 11 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two starts, allowed two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four without a walk on 100 pitches and retired nine straight batters at one point.

“It was kind of a grind. Lot of foul balls, couple long ABs,” Smyly said. “My fastball I think had a lot of life today. It was really good. My curveball not so much.”

Smyly has a 1.06 ERA in August, with 17 strikeouts and three walks.

Nationals starter Cory Abbott, a former Cub, gave up two runs on three hits in a career-high six innings. He matched his career best with five strikeouts.

Higgins’ two-out, two-run homer in the fifth gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

With runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, Nelson Cruz hit into what was initially ruled a double play. The Nationals challenged, the call at first was overturned and Meneses scored from third to tie it 2-2.

IN SYNC

Higgins has six homers this season and the last three have come with Smyly on the mound.

“Yea, he mentioned it to me,” Higgins said. “I wish they’d pitch him more than every five days.”

STREAKING

Meneses’ hitting streak is now the third-longest by a rookie in Nationals history (2005-present). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Ryan Zimmerman (17 in 2006) and Steve Lombardozzi (13 in 2013) have recorded longer hitting streaks as rookies.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: LHP Wade Miley (shoulder strain) allowed one unearned run on two hits over five innings in a rehab start for Iowa on Tuesday.

Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (shoulder inflammation) pitched four scoreless innings and allowed three hits in a rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Adrian Sampson (0-3, 3.88 ERA) starts at Baltimore on Thursday in the makeup of a game rained out on June 8. He allowed three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings in a July 12 loss to the Orioles.

Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (0-5, 7.20) pitches the opener of a four-game series on Thursday at San Diego. He allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of a home loss to the Padres in his last start.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.