"Can't do it every time." --Ryan Zimmerman, on his warning track fly ball to end the game with tying run at second.

THE RESULT:  For eight innings, the Washington Nationals looked much like they did Monday, showing little intensity, and were shut down by the Chicago Cubs.  In the ninth, the Nats generated a rally, getting the tying run to second base, before Carlos Marmol got Ryan Zimmerman to fly out to the track in right.

Though the games took slightly different paths, the outcome was the same, as the Cubs gave interim manager Mike Quade his second straight victory, 5-4, before 18,250 at Nationals Park.

Tonight's Cubs starter to tame the Nats bats was the embattled Carlos Zambrano.  The big right-hander went 7 1/3 innings, giving up just five hits and one walk, striking out eight in the process.  The Nats managed one run in the third inning when Zimmerman singled in Alberto Gonzalez from second base with two outs.

Other than the third inning, Zambrano (W, 5-6, 4.64) cruised.  Or we should say, the Nats continued their ineptness with runners in scoring position.  Until the ninth inning, the Nats were 2-for-9 with runners in scoing position.

The Cubs, on the other hand, took advantage of two bad pitches from John Lannan, both sliders left up over the plate, resulting in a three-run homer for Alfonso Soriano and a soslo shot for rookie Tyler Colvon. 

Nats' starter John Lannan delivers against the Chicago Cubs (Photo by C. Nichols/Nats News Network)
Lannan went five innings, throwing just 83 pitches.  He was nowhere near as sharp as his last outing, but wasn't terrible either -- which just adds to the frustration watching Lannan pitch.  He gave up seven hits in his five frames, but did not walk a batter.  He also struck out only three -- in his last two starts he struck out five in both.

"I just got hurt with two sliders, on to Soriano and one to Colvin," Lannan told MASNSports.com after the game. 

Alfonso Soriano takes John Lannan deep in 5-4 Cubs win. (Photo by C. Nichols/Nats News Network)
He was also asked about the bullpen, and the fact they are often asked to pitch up to four innings in every game.  "I've got nothing to say about that, because that's just the way our manager manages, and that's it."

It's the first time since his recall from his minor league stint that Lannan (5-6, 5.23) has given up more than two earned runs in the appearance.

Washington rallied in the ninth against Cubs closer Marmol.  A single by Alberto Gonzalez was sandwiched by a pair of walks to Michael Morse and Willie Harris with one out in the frame.  Nyjer Morgan struck out feebly, but Adam Kennedy drilled the second pitch he saw from Marmol into the right field corner, scoring all three base runners.

Adam Kennedy with a big blast, but not enough for the Nats. (Photo by C. Nichols/Nats News Network)
Unfortunately, that's where the rally died, as Zimmerman drove a 2-2 pitch to thew warning track in right, but right fielder Kosuke Fukudome settled under it for the final out of the game.

THE GOOD:  Kennedy and Gonzalez both had two hits on the night.  Miguel Batista, Collin Balester and Craig Stammen threw four innings of one-hit, shut out ball.

THE BAD:  Nyjer Morgan went 1-for-5 and stranded five runners.

THE UGLY:  Ian Desmond came to bat with two outs in the eighth with the bases loaded, and proceeded to strike out on three straight check swings -- all on Carlos Marmol sliders.

THE STATS:  11 Ks, 5 BBs, 3-for-10 RISP, 8 LOB, 2 DPs.

NEXT GAME:  The finale of the three-game series with the Cubs.  Jason Marquis (0-6) faces Ryan Dempster (11-8) at 7:05 pm.

NATS NOTES:  With the loss, the Nats record falls to 53-73.  They are 7-15 in August.  The Nats have to go 10-26 in their last 36 games to avoid 100 losses for the third straight season.