Bill Ladson

Nationals' offense continues to run dry

Washington drops sixth out of seven despite breaking 18-inning scoreless drought

Nationals' offense continues to run dry

WASHINGTON -- With Anthony Rendon back in the lineup on Thursday, the Nationals' offense was expected to improve. But its struggles continued during its 2-1 loss to the Cubs at Nationals Park.

The Nationals scored their only run in the sixth inning, when Denard Span came in on a groundout by Bryce Harper. It ended 18 straight scoreless innings. The last time they scored prior to Thursday was the fifth inning during the second game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays. Max Scherzer scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Moore.

The Nationals have lost six out of their last seven games. During that span, the club is hitting .226 with a homer, 15 RBIs and a .303 on-base percentage.

"We are not going to get that detailed about it," manager Matt Williams said. "We had opportunities, so we are going to try to create those opportunities. There are ebbs and flows to seasons in every aspect -- pitching, defense, offense. If we continue to create those opportunities, we have chances to win games. As of tonight, it didn't happen for us."

The Nationals had a chance to at least tie Thursday's game in the ninth inning. With runners on first and second, Rendon had a chance to be the hero. But on a 2-1 pitch, Cubs catcher David Ross picked off Clint Robinson at first base to end the game.

Ross ends game with pickoff

Williams tried to move past the issue, but then he said later, "Of course, it's frustrating. [Rendon] is one of our guys. He is a good run producer. If Anthony would have hit a three-run homer there and we ended up winning the game, we would forget about [the offensive struggles quickly]. We have another game tomorrow. We must do the same in this instance and be ready to play tomorrow."

Robinson didn't have any excuses for being tagged out with Rendon at the plate.

"I got too far -- ballgame. It's pretty much plain and simple," Robinson said. "It's frustrating. That's on me. That can't happen. I took the bat out of Anthony's hands. He is one of our better hitters. That's just on me. That can't happen. I really can't explain it. I wasn't really trying to go anywhere. I just couldn't get back fast enough."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.