Happ homers twice, but Cubs fall short in Washington

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs first baseman Patrick Wisdom blows a bubble during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-4.

    Chicago Cubs first baseman Patrick Wisdom blows a bubble during the seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-4. Associated Press

  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington. Associated Press

  • Washington Nationals relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan (67) and catcher Keibert Ruiz, right, celebrate the team's 5-4 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington.

    Washington Nationals relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan (67) and catcher Keibert Ruiz, right, celebrate the team's 5-4 win in a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Washington. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/15/2022 10:22 PM

This is kind of a random list, but Ian Happ earned his way on it.

By hitting 2 home runs on Monday in Washington, he became the sixth switch-hitter in major league history to hit at least 11 homers in each of his first six seasons, joining Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray, Ruben Sierra, Jose Cruz and Mark Teixeira.

 

"It's a pretty cool list," Happ told reporters after the game. "I take a lot of pride in that. Anytime you're on a list with some of the best to ever do it, those are really cool moments that I try to cherish."

Happ's second home run, which landed in the upper deck, gave the Cubs a 3-run lead, but they gave up a flurry of unearned runs in the fifth inning and lost to the Nationals 5-4.

There were some regrets after the game, with manager David Ross suggesting he should have left starting pitcher Marcus Stroman in for at least one more batter. Stroman departed with a 3-2 lead and reliever Mark Leiter Jr. gave up a 2-run double to Nelson Cruz.

"I probably took him out, honestly, one batter too soon," Ross said.

Stroman said Ross gave him the same message when the game was over, and he appreciated the gesture.

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"He came up to me after the game for sure," Stroman said. "I love Rossy. Rossy's a man and I have a lot of respect for that man."

The double in the fifth inning didn't settle the score. The Cubs tied the game in the seventh on an RBI single by Seiya Suzuki, but Cruz homered in the eighth off Brandon Hughes for the game-winner. Heading into Monday's action, Hughes had posted a 1.53 ERA since July 1.

The Cubs were cruising with a 3-0 lead until the rough defensive inning. It started when Lane Thomas reached on an error by third baseman Zach McKinstry, who made a wide throw to first on a routine ground ball.

Two singles loaded the bases with nobody out. Stroman struck out Joey Meneses, then Luke Voit hit a grounder to third. McKinstry hesitated before throwing it to second and the Cubs were unable to turn the inning-ending double play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It looked like McKinstry double-clutched because he was about to hit ex-Cub Ildemaro Vargas, the runner headed for third, with the throw. Stroman gave up a Yadiel Hernandez single to make it 3-2, then Leiter came in to face Cruz.

"I felt strong in that situation," said Stroman, who threw 94 pitches. "I've been blasted in the past for wanting to stay in, I've been blasted in the past for any situation. So I just try to keep my mouth shut and do everything I can while I'm out there. Then when he comes out to get me, my job is done.

"I thought I actually threw the ball all right. I felt pretty good, I thought I did a good job eliminating the long ball, eliminating extra-base hits. Just one of those days when things kind of play out weirdly."

Stroman admitted he was thrown off a little bit when the pitch-com stopped working and he had a hard time seeing Willson Contreras hand signals behind the plate. He said he didn't have any sort of leg injury, as was speculated on television.

Davis makes return:

Cubs top prospect Brennen Davis returned to game action Monday for the first time since he had back surgery in May. As a DH in the Arizona rookie league, Davis had a walk, run scored and 3 strikeouts. He last played on May 3 for Iowa.

Christopher Morel's younger brother Rafael was the star of that game, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI. Three Cubs 2022 draft picks were in the lineup -- second baseman Christopher Pacciola, catcher Hayden McGeary and left fielder Andy Garriola.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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