By Mary Cunningham
Steve Cishek pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for his fourth save as the Cubs held on for a 6-5 win over the Nats.
“He’s the first guy in line at Dairy Queen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon joked afterward. “That is above and beyond. I was planning on two innings, but then he had to go (get) an extra out.”
Chicago led 6-1 before Washington closed to within one on a three-run homer by Anthony Rendon in the sixth inning and a solo home run by Howie Kendrick in the seventh.
Cishek retired Rendon with a man on to end the seventh and allowed a single in the eighth before a 1-2-3 ninth. That all came after the reliever spoke with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, who told Cishek they might need him to throw a couple of innings.
“Jokingly, I told him (I could go) four innings,” Cishek said after his longest outing since May 2012. “Good thing that didn’t happen.”
Anthony Rizzo homered and Albert Almora Jr. had three hits for the Cubs, who took two of three from the Nationals and improved to 10-1-1 in their past 12 series.
Kyle Hendricks (4-4) retired the first 11 Washington batters and didn’t allow a hit until Kurt Suzuki’s single leading off the fifth, but gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Hendricks had been masterful in May, allowing just one earned run over his past three starts (25 innings).
“Not a good mental approach kind of from the start,” he said. “Wasn’t attacking as well as I have been the last few games and fastball command kind of suffered from there.”
Washington starter Jeremy Hellickson (2-3) allowed three runs and four hits with three walks in three innings.
Rizzo’s solo homer in the third gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead, and Chicago went up 4-0 in the fourth on Kyle Schwarber’s sacrifice fly. The Cubs scored two more in the sixth to take a 6-1 lead. They had numerous chances to increase their lead in the early innings, but went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base — leaving the door open for Washington.
“The boys are swinging the bat well,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “And they faced a guy that came in here pitching really, really well and we were able to knock him out of the game.”
Before the game, Maddon announced that the Cubs dropped their protest over the pitching delivery of Washington reliever Sean Doolittle in Saturday night’s game.