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Cubs more ‘confused’ than angry over MLB’s decision-making in Friday’s rainout

WASHINGTON — As the rain poured onto the tarp at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon just ahead of the Cubs’ third lengthy rain delay in barely 20 hours, Cubs manager Joe Maddon somehow located a ray of sunshine that no one else saw.

Friday night’s confounding fits and starts to a game that eventually ended in a rainout created a swampy doubleheader against the Nationals with the Cubs already more than two weeks into a 23-games-in-23-days stretch.

“The fact that we’ve been going through all this actually makes this somewhat easier in a sense,” Maddon said, “because you’re not just throwing a wrench in the gears right now. The wrench already has been thrown into the gears for a bit.”

In other words, getting hit in the head with a brick isn’t so bad if you already have a migraine?

Jon Lester pitched only one inning Friday before the game was rained out and will return to start Monday's series opener against the Brewers.

By the time the Cubs started the doubleheader, they had endured rain delays of 6 hours, 26 minutes since Friday night — including a 2-hour, 10-minute wait before Max Scherzer (17-6) beat them 10-3 in the opener with an 11-strikeout complete game.

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Along the way, the Cubs lost ace Jon Lester for the series after he pitched just one inning Friday, then was forced to sit through thunderstorms the rest of the night.

“Everything about last night was [frustrating],” said Maddon, who will bring Lester back Monday to open their three-game home series against the second-place Brewers.

The Cubs came away more baffled than angry over what happened Friday — getting in just eight outs of baseball after the first delay, then waiting out nearly three hours, only to have the game postponed once the rain finally stopped.

Maddon suggested inquiries be -directed to Major League Baseball, which presided over the decision-making.

“It was kind of confusing to us also,” he said. “We played when we shouldn’t have, then did not play when we should have. I voiced my opinion at the appropriate moment. We wanted to play.”

Entering Saturday, the Cubs were 12-5 during their 23-game grinder, which was created by another postponement that forced a one-nighter in Atlanta to start this 11-game, four-city trip.

“We’ve been through a rough baseball stretch,” Maddon said. “We’ve handled it well. I anticipate we’ll continue to handle it well.”

This and that

With Lester starting Monday, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks each get pushed back a day to pitch the other games of the final series of the season against Milwaukee. Pitching for the Brewers, in order: Wade Miley, Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson.

Journeyman speed specialist –Terrance Gore, acquired last month from the Royals, got his first hit in 16 career plate appearances in Game 1 of the doubleheader, a ninth-inning single up the middle against Scherzer. Gore has 23 stolen bases in parts of five big-league seasons.

The reason the doubleheader was not scheduled as a day-night split is because the collective-bargaining agreement allows teams to veto such lengthier schedules after they’ve had three in a season. Both teams had reached the limit.

Friday’s rainout was the Cubs’ eighth weather-related postponement of the season and their first since
June 18 — not counting the suspended game against the Mets two weeks ago.

When Tommy La Stella doubled in the first inning of Game 1, he improved to 4-for-7 lifetime against three-time Cy Young winner Scherzer, with a homer, triple and two doubles. La Stella was hitless in his final three at-bats.