Hendricks (13-4) won his 11th straight decision in a 15-start stretch. He was part of the franchise’s 2016 World Series championship, is signed through 2023 and is one of the team’s most recognizable remaining players.
“It was a really, really tough time, and still is,” Hendricks said. “It’s going to take a while to process. It’s just very different around here without those guys. Nothing you can do but move forward. We’re still playing baseball. The goal is to win ballgames.”
The right-hander pitched seven innings, allowing a run on four hits while striking out three.
Joe Ross (5-9) allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings for Washington, which lost for the first time since completing a deadline sale of their own that shipped out Max Scherzer, Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner, among others. The Nats beat the Cubs on Friday night.
The Nationals went 8-18 in July, their worst record in a month when they played more than one game since going 8-19 in June 2010.
“We ended the month tough,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “We have to stick together, play together and just have some fun and try to win games.”
Chicago took the lead in the fourth. Sergio Alcántara drove in a run on a one-out single and scored on Andrew Romine’s double. Ortega then homered to center with two down to bump the margin to 5-1.
“It’s sad to see the stars go, the players that we had here and what they did,” Ortega said. “But I think it also gives me and the other players an opportunity to take advantage of and stake our place here with the team.”
Jason Heyward added an RBI single in the seventh. It was the first time since July 16 that Heyward drove in a run, a span of 46 at-bats.
With Hendricks out of the game, the Nationals pounced on Rex Brothers for three hits and a walk to open the eighth. Codi Heuer, making his Cubs debut a day after coming over from the Chicago White Sox in the Kimbrel deal, allowed only Carter Kieboom’s sacrifice fly that made it 6-3 while otherwise escaping the bases-loaded jam.
“Usually, you want to give somebody a little softer landing when they get to the new team,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “That was the plan, but it didn’t work out that way. He handled the moment really nice.”
Kyle Ryan worked the ninth for his first save.
Ortega opened the scoring in the first, coming around when Washington’s Juan Soto misplayed Patrick Wisdom’s liner to right into a three-base error.
Yadiel Hernandez, batting cleanup for the first time this season, had an RBI double in the first for the Nationals.
Nationals: RHP Mason Thompson was added to the active roster. Washington acquired Thompson from San Diego for reliever Daniel Hudson on Friday. Thompson made four appearances for the Padres this season.
ROBLES LEADS OFF
Washington OF Victor Robles, who had missed three games in a row with back stiffness, hit leadoff for the first time since May 2. He was 1 for 4 with a walk, and also led off the game with a sharp line drive to third. Robles is hitting .203 with a homer and 13 RBI.
“He’s going to get an opportunity to hit up there,” Martinez said. “He had some good at-bats and hopefully he continues to do that.”
Cubs: RHP Adbert Alzolay (4-11, 4.73 ERA) is 0-7 with a 6.28 ERA in his last eight starts, but has pitched at least five innings in five consecutive outings.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (4-7, 5.05), who is 0-3 with a 6.68 ERA in his last seven starts, gets the nod for Washington as the three-game series concludes.
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