Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams says he isn't panicking.
After the Cubs handed his Nationals a 6-3 defeat on Sunday - Washington's eighth loss in 10 games - Williams ruminated on the peaks and valleys of a baseball season and said he wasn't too worried.
The loss dropped the Nationals out of the NL East lead, passed by the New York Mets, but Williams cautioned patience, saying it's a long season.
"I'm not concerned,'' Williams said. "What we need to do is play every day. It's the same team that was really good in May. It's been a little rough for us recently, but there's no reason we can't pull out of that, too. It's the way the game goes sometimes.''
Kris Bryant tripled, doubled, singled and scored twice as the Cubs won three of four in the series.
Kyle Hendricks (2-2) went five innings, giving up three runs and six hits and earning the victory.
Washington's Jordan Zimmermann (5-3) had won his last four decisions. He began this game with a 1-4 career record against the Cubs, and ran into more trouble, giving up four runs on 10 hits in just five innings.
This was his first loss since April 18.
"I just wasn't locating,'' Zimmermann said. "My breaking pitches were terrible. It's going to happen when you don't have all your pitches, and I just wasn't sharp today.''
Jason Motte pitched a perfect ninth for his first save since 2012, when he led the NL with 42 for St. Louis before getting hurt. Closer Hector Rondon threw a perfect eighth - a day earlier, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he might put the right-hander in some lower-pressure situations to get settled.
Chris Coghlan and Starlin Castro both had two hits and two RBIs.
The Cubs outhit the Nationals 14-8, showcasing the depth of the Chicago lineup. The win, Maddon said, proved a point he's been making about his squad several times.
Though Williams isn't hitting the panic button, it doesn't mean he's letting his squad off of the hook. For the Nationals to regain their stride, it's time for the team to get back into a rhythm of play where it can "get the lead, keep the lead.''
"There are no excuses, period. We've got to play and win games and get to where we want to get to,'' Williams said.
THE FIRST TIME
Williams has often praised Danny Espinosa's versatility, but he had to put him in left field for the first time ever Sunday. CF Denard Span's back locked up as he was trying to go on the field for the eighth, and Williams moved LF Michael A. Taylor to center and then put Espinosa to left. "Just (was trying) to get the job done, and not over-think it,'' he said. "Outfield's completely new for me.''
Cubs: OF Chris Denorfia (left hamstring strain) came off the disabled list Sunday and returned to the starting lineup. He got three hits and scored a run.
Nationals: Escobar returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with a sore right wrist that he injured on a checked swing Thursday night. ... RHP Doug Fister (forearm tightness) threw a rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse Sunday, going 3 2-3 innings and giving up two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. ... 1B Ryan Zimmerman was given a day out of the starting lineup. His foot injury (plantar fasciitis still bothering him, but he said it's nothing bad. ... CF Denard Span left after the seventh inning because his back locked up as he was coming up the steps, according to manager Matt Williams. The Nationals moved Taylor to center and put Danny Espinosa in left for the first time ever.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (4-4, 3.86) opens the series in Detroit on Tuesday while trying to bounce back from a shaky June 3 start when he gave up six runs on nine hits in five innings in a loss to the Marlins. That came after a strong month of May where he went 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85) starts the interleague series at Yankee Stadium, having won five of his last six starts. He's among major league leaders in several categories, including ERA (third) and strikeouts (fifth, 90).