It was one of those forgettable days for Jeromy Burnitz, who went from being in a foul mood to feeling like a fool.
If you want to know why Washington is leading the National League East and the Cubs are second in the NL Central, consider that the Nationals are 21-7 in one-run games, the Cubs 13-11.
"These are games we need to win from here on out if we want to contend," said Burnitz, who took full responsibility for this one.
During a wacky eighth inning, Burnitz at first thought he was the hero with a game-tying home run, then later knew he was the goat after getting picked off third base.
"A big mistake in that situation," he said. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't. I got off too far and got picked off."
Here's what happened in that eighth inning with the Cubs trailing 4-2:
Derrek Lee's fly ball to right field was lost in the sun for a triple. Burnitz hit the next pitch from Livan Hernandez high over the right-field foul pole, and first-base umpire Brian O'Nora called it fair.
Game tied 4-4?
Not so fast. The Nationals rushed en masse toward O'Nora, who then called for an umpire huddle. The call was reversed.
But Burnitz still came through with an RBI double to make it 4-3, then moved to third with the potential tying run on Todd Walker's fly out. With Todd Hollandsworth hoping to tie the game with a hit or sacrifice fly, catcher Brian Schneider saw Burnitz stray too far off third and gunned him down.
It was basically the last gasp for the Cubs.
"I have to be more on my toes," Burnitz said. "You can't do that under any circumstances."
"That's the first mistake Jeromy has made for as long as I remember," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who added he had "nothing bad to say about Jeromy" after all the good he has done.
Baker agreed the umpires made the right call on the home run-that-wasn't, even though he put up a mild argument.
"They didn't have to tell me anything," he said. "From the dugout you could see it was foul."
It was a strange ending to an afternoon where the Cubs, again, weren't good enough to win, either offensively or on the mound.
Mark Prior (5-2) started for the second time since coming off the disabled list and left after five innings down 3-0. The Cubs closed the deficit to one run in the sixth with homers by Lee, his 24th, and Hollandsworth.
All of the runs Prior allowed were with two outs, as was the fourth run charged to Glendon Rusch. On Thursday, Cubs pitchers allowed seven runs after getting two outs.
Meanwhile, Cubs batters left seven runners on base against Hernandez, who ran his record to 12-2 with his 11th straight victory, and Hector Carrasco.
In the second inning, the Cubs put the first two batters on only to have Hollandsworth hit into a double play and Jose Macias ground out. They let a leadoff single go for nothing in the third inning. And in the seventh inning, Corey Patterson was left at third base after a two-out triple when Neifi Perez lined out.
"As soon as we get on a roll, we fall back," Lee said. "We have to find a way to stay on a roll."