Cubs stunned by Nats' late rallies

Cubs stunned by Nats' late rallies

CHICAGO -- A four-run lead against the team with the worst record in baseball would seem to be enough for the Cubs. But it wasn't.

Willie Harris hit his first career grand slam to highlight a six-run sixth inning and added a two-run shot in the ninth to power the Washington Nationals to a 13-5 victory Friday over the Cubs.

"We got beat up today," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "What are you going to do? They came out and swung the bats after the fifth inning. They hit the ball all over the park, and out of it."

The Nationals won for only the second time in the past 14 games, and also posted the largest come-from-behind-win for any opponent against the Cubs this season, and the most runs. They are not to be overlooked, especially when the wind is blowing out.

"Guys are playing for next year, playing [the] spoiler, playing because they're competitive," Chicago's Mark DeRosa said. "You're not going to have guys in this league roll over. When you go to the plate, you want to have an at-bat -- you're not giving away at-bats.

"I don't care what your record is or what team you're on. They're big league ballplayers for a reason. They've got some guys who can swing the bat, and when the wind is blowing out, they got a ball up in the air and it changes the entire game."

The Cubs had opened a lead, aided by home runs by DeRosa and Derrek Lee, and some fancy footwork. In the first, Alfonso Soriano was at third and Lee at first with one out when Aramis Ramirez was called out on a check-swing strike. Lee broke for second, and catcher Wil Nieves threw there in an attempt to get him out. Lee was safe, and Soriano swiped home on the play.

Lee made it 2-0 with his 18th homer, and first since July 27, with one out in the third off John Lannan (7-12). Geovany Soto singled to lead off the fourth and set up DeRosa's homer, his 16th. DeRosa now has set personal highs in both home runs and RBIs (75). His previous bests were 13 homers and 74 RBIs, set in 2006 with Texas.

"I feel good at the plate," said DeRosa, who is batting .380 over his past 15 games, driving in runs in 11 of them. "It's one of those things -- when you're going good, you don't want to talk about it."

Cubs starter Jason Marquis, pitching on eight days' rest, was going pretty good, too, until the sixth. Emilio Bonifacio was safe on an infield single, and Marquis then walked both Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman to load the bases. Lastings Milledge hit a sacrifice fly and Ronnie Belliard hit an RBI double. Marquis was lifted, and Neal Cotts (0-2) walked pinch-hitter Austin Kearns to load the bases for Harris' slam.

"It turned quick," Lee said. "It seemed like we were cruising, and the next thing you know, we were fighting an uphill battle."

Cotts took his frustration out on a Gatorade cooler in the dugout, whacking it with his right hand.

"It happened," Cotts said of the game. "It's over with, and we'll get over it and come back tomorrow."

Harris, whose six RBIs matched his career high, was happy with the results, but not doing so against his former White Sox teammate. He and Cotts were together on the 2005 World Series championship team.

"Neal and I go way back," Harris said. "I consider him a friend. I have to do my job, too. If I could choose someone else, I would."

What happened to Marquis?

"I don't have an explanation for it," Piniella said.

"I felt pretty good throwing the ball," Marquis said. "I let it get away from me in that sixth inning. Pitch selection was a big part. I tried to make pitches and obviously wasn't able to make the adjustment."

Chad Gaudin served up six runs over the final two innings. The Cubs' bullpen had held opponents scoreless in eight of the previous 10 games prior to Friday, and had given up just four runs over 28 innings in that stretch.

"It just shows you that when the wind's blowing out here, anybody can be dangerous," Lee said. "You kind of had that feeling, even though we were up, 4-0, that you needed to score some runs, and we just weren't able to do it today.

"We still have the opportunity to win the series, and that's what we need to do."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.