WASHINGTON -- The hope that the Chicago Cubs would perform well out of respect for since-departed Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel vanished quickly.
Carlos Villanueva, starting in place of Samardzija, didn't get an out during a six-run third by the Washington Nationals, who added four more runs in the seventh en route to a 13-0 triumph.
"It had nothing to do with any of the things that happened," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "We spit out a bad ballgame."
Villanueva wasn't happy after being pulled after 58 pitches in two-plus innings, but he said after the game he felt squeezed by the strike zone of home plate umpire Will Little. Villanueva allowed four runs on five hits, and left-hander Chris Rusin was tagged for three runs on three hits in the third.
Villanueva wasn't informed he would start until five hours before the game.
"That's what I'm here for," Villanueva said. "It's a shame I couldn't go longer. It's a difficult day overall, but it's part of our job title. Our job is to play our butts off, regardless of what happens.
"I thought the zone was a little tight, but it's just my opinion. If it's up to me, I wish I could have gone at least five innings."
The Nationals added four runs in the seventh off Justin Grimm as the Cubs' pitching staff allowed a season-high 19 hits. Ryan Zimmerman led the Nationals with four hits, including a two-run double in the third.
Gio Gonzalez pitched eight shutout innings as the Cubs were blanked for the 11th time.
Before the game, Renteria held a meeting to discuss the importance of maintain focus after the loss of Samardzija and Hammel, traded to the Oakland Athletics.
"I let them know we lost two teammates, two friends," Renteria said. "And the reality is there are things we can't control, and the things they can control are continuing to play the game and go out there and continue to grind it out and continue to do what they're doing.
"Those two guys set examples as to how they grind out their games. Let's not basically do them a favor, but let's show them what they've taught us we can continue to do, and hopefully that's what can happen."
(c)2014 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services