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Zimmermann struggles as Nationals lose to Cubs

Tuesday - 8/20/2013, 12:24am  ET

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) scratches his head as he talks with shortstop Ian Desmond during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Chicago. Shortly after the conversation Zimmermann gave up a three-run home run to the Cubs' Dioner Navarro. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Jordan Zimmermann said he felt fine.

He thought he had a good slider. The biggest problem was his location, and that was just too much for him to overcome.

Zimmermann allowed three homers in five rocky innings and the Washington Nationals managed just six hits in an 11-1 loss to Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Nate Schierholtz hit a three-run shot off Zimmermann in the first, and Donnie Murphy belted a leadoff drive in the fourth.

Dioner Navarro put the game away with another three-run homer in the fifth.

"I can live with a solo home run or a few base hits, but when you get guys on you have to really buckle down and make pitches and I wasn't able to do that tonight," Zimmermann said.

Zimmermann (14-7) allowed eight runs, matching a career high, and seven hits in his first loss since July 26 against the New York Mets. The All-Star was 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his previous three starts.

The three home runs matched a season high for Zimmermann, who is tied with St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright for the NL lead with 14 wins.

"He's a tremendous pitcher, he's going to be fine," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "This was not good, obviously. But I think he came through it all right."

Schierholtz went deep again in the seventh and finished with a career-high six RBIs. Murphy added a second solo shot in the eighth in Chicago's highest-scoring game since a 14-6 victory over Houston on June 23.

"They hit the ball well," Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "Jordan has been great all year, but tonight they got to him a little bit. And their guy threw really well."

Schierholtz went 3 for 4 while moving into a tie with Anthony Rizzo for the team lead with 18 homers. He also is second only to Rizzo with 58 RBIs.

Not bad for a journeyman outfielder who was non-tendered by Philadelphia after last season and agreed to a one-year deal with Chicago in late December.

'I'd like to be part of the future here," said Schierholtz, who feared he might be traded before last month's non-waiver deadline. "I'm happy I'm not out of here."

Schierholtz's fourth career multihomer game was more than enough run support for Samardzija (7-11), who pitched a six-hitter for his second complete game of the season and No. 3 for his career. He struck out five and walked none in his first victory in a month.

Wilson Ramos hit his eighth homer in the seventh, but that was it for Washington. Bryce Harper finished with two hits.

"You have to tip your hat to Samardzija," Johnson said. "He pitched a heck of a ballgame, he's a tough competitor. He made good, quality pitches all night and used his off-speed stuff to set up his fastball."

The Nationals acquired outfielder David DeJesus in a pregame trade with the Cubs, but their fringe playoff hopes took a hit with their third loss in four games.

They trail NL East-leading Atlanta by 16 games, but the most important number at this point is their 10½-game deficit compared to Cincinnati in the race for the second NL wild-card slot.

The acquisition of DeJesus gives Washington a veteran left-handed bat for its bench. The 33-year-old DeJesus hit .250 with six homers and 27 RBIs in 84 games with the Cubs.

DeJesus hit for Zimmerman in the eighth and received a warm ovation from the crowd of 31,290 on a beautiful night in Chicago. He popped out to shortstop and remained in the game to play center field.

"I'm going to give it my all," said DeJesus, who merely had to move over to the visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley Field to join to his new team. "Try and be a guy out there as a leader and a guy that young guys can learn from."

The Cubs get a player to be named in the trade, but they also save about $2.5 million, including a $1.5 million buyout for a 2014 team option worth $6.5 million. General manager Jed Hoyer said the money was a "strong consideration."

"We really like David a lot," Hoyer said. "I've told his agent and Theo told David directly, we'd be willing to talk to him about bringing him back at some point. He's a good mentor for our younger guys."

NOTES: Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo (illness) got the day off. Manager Dale Sveum said he hopes he will be ready for Tuesday night's game. ... The Cubs activated OF Brian Bogusevic (strained left hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list to take DeJesus' roster spot, and general manager Jed Hoyer said OF Ryan Sweeney (broken left rib) likely will begin a rehab stint next week. ... The Nationals released OF Roger Bernardina to make room on their roster. Bernardina hit .178 in 85 games with Washington. ... Nationals RHP Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79 ERA) faces Cubs LHP Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06 ERA) in the second game of the series.

___

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap


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