For the fourth time this season, Livan Hernandez put the Nationals on his back and carried them late into the game.
By doing that, he gave them a chance to earn a victory.
With early run support, Washington was able to do just that as they defeated the Cubs 3-1 and nipped a one game losing streak in the bud.
Throughout baseball, the aces of pitching staff's are called stoppers.
They are the pitchers who managers, general managers and fans feel comfortable putting in every fifth day to make sure that no losing streak gets out of control.
That's exactly what Livan did for the Nationals last night who had just fallen to .500 on a disheartening extra-inning loss, capitalized by a walk-off-walk to Aramis Ramirez. A loss tonight would have been difficult to swallow for a team that has struggled so hard to stay at .500 or above, but with Hernandez on the mound, he did everything to make sure that didn't happen.
The 35-year-old tossed 99 pitches over seven strong innings, allowing six hits and only one walk. None of the hits allowed by Hernandez were for extra bases, and he forced the Cubs to strand eight runners on base. The performance built on his already stellar start, improving his record to 3-1, with a 0.87 ERA, and a .176 batting average against.
At the plate the Nationals got off to an early start as center fielder Nyjer Morgan hit a lead-off triple (.088 Win Probability Added). Ian Desmond immediately followed by going the other way for a single to right, driving in Morgan (.040 WPA). Cristian Guzman then tripled to center driving in Desmond (.106 WPA) to give the Nationals an early 2-0 lead.
The Cubs scored their only run of the night in the second. Alfonso Soriano hit a one-out single to right (.028 WPA) to start the rally off for the Cubs. Mike Fontenot followed by singling to center (.068 WPA) advancing Soriano to third. Geovany Sota then hit a grounder to third, which Soriano was able to score on due to a botched double play attempt by Guzman at second (.012 WPA).
The Nationals would score once more in the eighth after Ian Desmond singled in Nyjer Morgan from second base (.098 WPA).
-The Nationals stole three bases but also were caught stealing twice.
-Cristian Guzman's error was his second of the season
-While Maxwell was 0-2, he walked twice.