|11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE1:20 PM CT, August 5, 2017
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 41,857
Nationals aim to stay focused in bid for series win vs. Cubs
CHICAGO -- Dusty Baker has been around enough playoff caliber teams to know that it's not a good idea to give too much weight to an August series -- even between a pair of first-place teams.
Yet as the Washington Nationals continue their three-game set against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday, Baker is willing to predict "a good series" this weekend.
"You still got to play," Baker said this week. "No extra emphasis. ... You'd like to beat them every series in case something comes down at the end. So, no. we'll see."
Many fans, however, were quick to label the series a clash of the National League titans or at least a preview of coming postseason attractions.
Prior to Friday's 4-2 loss, Chicago (57-51) placed shortstop Addison Russell on the 10-day disabled list with a right foot strain retroactive to Aug. 2.
"It's been bothering him noticeably the last couple days," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said on Friday. "We thought it was wise to get it settled down right now."
Javier Baez stepped in at shortstop for the 27th time this season on Friday and appears likely to play for the foreseeable future after he clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh. Russell was batting .241 with 20 doubles, 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 97 games.
Also Friday, the Cubs recalled left-hander Rob Zastryzny from Triple-A Iowa to take Russell's roster spot. Zastryzny is up for second time this season and made one appearance during a brief stint with the club in May. He's 1-2 with one save and a 6.67 ERA in 10 appearances, three as a starter, with Iowa this season.
Chicago's Saturday starter -- right-hander John Lackey -- is on a roll with a 3-0 record since the All-Star break. In his last start on Sunday at Milwaukee, he allowed just two runs on nine hits in six innings in his eighth quality start. Both runs came on a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
Lackey (8-9, 4.87 ERA) will make his eighth career start against Washington and second this season. He allowed eight runs over 5 1/3 innings on June 28 at Nationals Park and had gone 2-0 with a 3.49 ERA in his previous six starts against the franchise, dating back to a 2003 start against the Montreal Expos.
The Nationals (64-43) send right-hander Edwin Jackson to the mound to face his former team on Saturday in place of Gio Gonzalez, who will miss the start with his wife expected to give birth to the couple's second child.
Jackson is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three appearances since joining Washington following a short stint in Baltimore, his 12th big league team in a career that goes back to 2003 and includes a previous stay with the Nationals (2012).
The 33-year-old appeared in relief in three games for the Orioles in early June and had no record.
Jackson owns a 3-5 mark with a 5.89 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) versus the Cubs.
Baker also performed some fancy footwork for the series finale, replacing two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer with right-hander Erick Fedde. The 33-year-old Scherzer, who is working his way back from neck spasms, is targeting Monday's game against Miami for his next start pending no issues following Saturday's bullpen session.
Updated August 4, 2017