WASHINGTON — Chicago Cubs outfielder Rafael Ortega put on a show Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.
Ortega hit three home runs and drove in all five Cubs runs in a 6-5 loss to the Washington Nationals. Yadiel Hernández led off the ninth with a homer against Manuel Rodríguez to give the Nationals the walk-off win.
Ortega has been locked in since the All-Star break and thriving out of the leadoff spot, where he batted Sunday. He’s the fourth Cub with a three-homer game as a leadoff hitter, joining Alfonso Soriano (twice), Brant Brown, and Tuffy Rhodes.
Ortega hit as many home runs Sunday as he had hit in his major-league career coming into this season. In parts of four seasons with four teams from 2012 to 2019, Ortega tallied three homers in 410 at-bats.
He became the first Cubs left-handed hitter with three homers in a game since Brown on June 18, 1998, versus the Philadelphia Phillies. Ortega is also the first Cubs lefty hitter to accomplish the feat on the road since Rick Monday on May 16, 1972, in Philadelphia.
The Cubs didn’t generate much offense beyond Ortega’s power display. The rest of the lineup combined for one hit, a pinch-hit single by Andrew Romine in the sixth.
Right-hander Adbert Alzolay struggled at times with his command, including in the Nationals’ three-run third. He walked four batters (one intentionally), struck out four and gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings.©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.