NLDS Game 4 of Nats-Cubs rained out, set to play wed­nes­day

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CHICAGO (AP) — The showers came a little late, but the rain that soaked Wrigley Field and washed out Game 4 of the NL Divi­sion Se­ries fol­lowed Tues­day’s fore­cast pretty closely.

In­stead, Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker de­liv­ered the big­gest sur­prise of the day.

Baker an­nounced af­ter the rain­out that he will stay with Tanner Roark for Wed­nes­day’s must­win game against the Chicago Cubs in­stead of giv­ing the ball to ace Stephen Stras­burg on reg­u­lar rest. Jake Ar­ri­eta pitches for the Cubs in his re­turn from a right ham­string in­jury.

Stras­burg threw a bullpen ses­sion Mon­day. Baker said there is an ill­ness go­ing around his team, which he at­trib­uted to the weather, air con­di­tion­ing at their ho­tel and Wrigley, and the “time of the year for mold around Chicago.”

“We de­cided to stay with Tanner be­cause, No. 1, you know, he was slated,” Baker said. “Didn’t work out for Stras for his bullpen day, and we’re all crea­tures of habit, and plus, we’ve got full con­fi­dence in Tanner. And Stras, it would have been bet­ter, be­cause he’s feel­ing un­der the weather, like a lot of my team is.”

The Cubs and Na­tion­als took bat­ting prac­tice and the grounds crew got the field ready be­fore bring­ing out the tarp. The rain started to fall about a half-hour af­ter the game was sup­posed to start. With more showers in the fore­cast, Ma­jor League Base­ball then called it off.

Chicago leads 2-1 in the best-of-five se­ries go­ing into Game 4, now sched­uled for Wed­nes­day at 4:08 p.m. EDT. There is rain in the fore­cast for early in the day.

“Ev­ery­body was pretty much on the same page on this one,” MLB ex­ec­u­tive Joe Torre said. “You know, we all felt it wasn’t go­ing to be enough play­ing time with­out rain.”

If the Na­tion­als win Wed­nes­day, Game 5 would be Thurs­day night in Wash­ing­ton. The winner of the NLDS takes on the Dodgers in the next round, sched­uled to be­gin Satur­day in Los An­ge­les. Chicago won 2-1 at home Mon­day. Ar­ri­eta has pitched just 10 1/3 in­nings since Aug. 30. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner got hurt dur­ing a loss at Pitts­burgh on Sept. 4. He re­turned late last month and made a cou­ple starts down the stretch, but lasted just three in­nings in a loss at St. Louis on Sept. 26.

The Cubs skipped Ar­ri­eta’s last turn in the ro- tation in the reg­u­lar sea­son and then pushed him back to Game 4 for the play­offs, giv­ing the righthander am­ple time to rest.

“Jake’s re­ally primed for this op­por­tu­nity,” Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don said. “He’s done a great job of re­hab­bing his leg. He feels very good ar­mand leg-wise right now. I’m real ea­ger to watch him play.”

The 31-year-old Ar­ri­eta was a key fac­tor in Chicago’s turn­around in the last part of the sea­son, go­ing 6-3 with a 2.28 ERA in his fi­nal 12 out­ings. Ar­ri­eta, who is el­i­gi­ble for free agency af­ter the sea­son, could be mak­ing his last start in a Cubs uni­form.

“Th­ese next few days are go­ing to be ex­tremely spe­cial, and if we’re for­tu­nate enough to get past th­ese guys, like I feel we are, I’m go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to en­joy the last few weeks,” Ar­ri­eta said Mon­day.

Roark is from Wilm­ing­ton, Illi­nois, about 60 miles south of Chicago, and grew up root­ing for the Cubs. Baker praised Roark’s “war­rior men­tal­ity” on Mon­day, but the de­ci­sion to go with the righty over Stras­burg and the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the move likely will be hotly de­bated ahead of Game 4.

With Max Scherzer nurs­ing his own right ham­string in­jury, Stras­burg started the se­ries opener on Fri­day and turned in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance. The right-han­der was work­ing on a no-hit­ter be­fore Kris Bryant and An­thony Rizzo hit con­sec­u­tive RBI sin­gles with two outs in the sixth in­ning.

Stras­burg struck out 10 in seven in­nings and was charged with two un­earned runs and three hits in Wash­ing­ton’s 3-0 loss. Go­ing back to the reg­u­lar sea­son, he is 5-2 with a mi­cro­scopic 0.74 ERA and 73 Ks in 60 2/3 in­nings over his last nine starts.

Baker said Stras­burg will start Game 5 if the se­ries goes that far.

“It’s fine,” said Baker, who left open the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing with Stras­burg when he talked to re­porters be­fore the game. “We have full con­fi­dence in Tanner.”

The rain­out also meant the Na­tion­als had to switch ho­tels.

The big­gest winner of the day was the Dodgers, who elim­i­nated Ari­zona with a 3-1 vic­tory in Game 3 of their NLDS on Mon­day night. If the NLDS be­tween the Na­tion­als and Cubs goes the dis­tance, the sur­vivor will have to play four times in five days. AP

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