Russell thriving in clutch moments

Russell thriving in clutch moments

CHICAGO -- Addison Russell watched his ball sail toward the right-field corner and thought it was headed foul. But the way things are going for the Cubs these days, it stayed fair.

Russell delivered a go-ahead two-run double with two outs in the seventh inning on Saturday to lift the Cubs to an 8-5 victory over the Nationals. He drove in a season-high three runs and extended his on-base streak to 12 games.

Manager Joe Maddon isn't surprised by the clutch hitting by the 22-year-old shortstop.

"He does that," Maddon said. "When it's hot, he's there, he's in present-tense mode. Base hit up the middle [in the sixth], and then the slicer. You would think with that wind today it would be really difficult to score runs. I didn't anticipate all of that."

The wind was howling in at 20 miles per hour from the north -- Maddon called it a "tsunami" -- and it blew Russell's hit in the seventh toward the right-field corner. The Nationals' Bryce Harper gave chase, and the ball dropped in front of him. Washington challenged that the ball was fair, but after a review, the call stood, and the Cubs led, 7-5.

Russell's postgame interview

"It just happened so quick," Russell said. "I thought the ball was going to be foul, but it stayed in there and we scored a few runs. I was pretty excited."

Russell seems to thrive in those moments. He's batting .313 with runners in scoring position.

"I think it's fun," he said. "You just try to slow the game down and try to do your best to perform out there and try to have fun with it.

"All I want to do is come through. If I strike out, whatever happens, it happens. I just want to see the ball, hit the ball."

Saturday's game was a seesaw battle against the Nationals (19-11), who have the second-best record in the National League, and the Cubs (23-6).

"It's just that 'don't quit' attitude," Russell said of his teammates' approach. "We want to win, we came here to win, and that's what we're going to try to accomplish."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.