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Wieters' grand slam leads Nats to victory in Chicago

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USA TODAY Sports

Wieters' grand slam leads Nats to victory in Chicago

CHICAGO -- Matt Wieters hit a tiebreaking grand slam off Carl Edwards Jr. in Washington's five-run eighth inning, helping the Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 9-4 on Sunday.

Bryce Harper started the winning rally with a one-out infield single against Mike Montgomery. Ryan Zimmerman doubled against Edwards and Daniel Murphy was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Washington then grabbed control in a span of two pitches. Edwards (3-3) hit Anthony Rendon, tying it at 4, and Wieters followed with a drive over the wall in center for his third career grand slam.

Wieters drove in five runs and Rendon also had an RBI double for the NL East-leading Nationals, who had dropped three of four.

Brian Goodwin homered, drove in two runs and robbed Jon Jay of a hit with a terrific diving catch on a sinking liner to center in the seventh.

Willson Contreras hit two more home runs for Chicago, which stayed a half-game ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

The Cubs closed out a 2-4 homestand against NL contenders Arizona and Washington before pulling on leather vests and bandannas for their "Easy Rider"-themed six-game road trip out west.

Cubs starter Jon Lester was charged with three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Contreras led off the fourth with a drive to the back of the bleachers in left for his 20th homer. He connected again in the sixth, and Kyle Schwarber followed with another homer off rookie Erick Fedde for a 4-1 lead.

The 25-year-old Contreras is batting .346 (27 for 78) with 10 homers and 29 RBIs in 20 games since the All-Star break. He went deep five times in the last four games of the homestand.

But that was it for Chicago, which couldn't get anything going against Washington's bullpen after Erick Fedde lasted 5 1/3 innings in his second major league start. Brandon Kintzler (3-2) pitched a scoreless inning for his first win since he was acquired in a trade with Minnesota.

The Nationals faced the Cubs without their three best starting pitchers. Max Scherzer was pushed back after he left his previous start with neck spasms. Gio Gonzalez is on the paternity list, and Stephen Strasburg is on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow injury.

MILESTONE HIT

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward doubled in the eighth for his 1,000th career hit. He went 3 for 4.

MAKING MOVES

The Cubs recalled infielder Tommy La Stella from Triple-A Iowa and optioned left-hander Rob Zastryzny to their top farm club. The 28-year-old La Stella is hitting .298 with two homers and six RBIs in 37 games with the Cubs this year.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cubs: SS Addison Russell (strained right foot) thinks he will be able to return when he is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list next Sunday. "It's something where I feel like I could try and play through, but really all it takes is just one kind of play to make it worse than what it already is," he said. "So taking the precautions and doing the treatment now."

UP NEXT

Nationals: There has been no confirmation of Washington's rotation for its four-game series against Miami beginning on Monday night. Scherzer (12-5, 2.21 ERA) could start the opener against the Marlins.

Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (10-8, 3.88 ERA) faces Giants LHP Matt Moore on Monday night. Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA over his last six starts, showing flashes of the form that helped him win the NL Cy Young Award in 2015. Moore (3-11, 5.80 ERA) is trying for his first win since June 20.

THE ROAD AHEAD

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Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

When Bryce Harper went down Saturday night during the Nationals' game against the San Francisco Giants, everyone in D.C. stopped breathing for a moment. This was true even for Nats GM Mike Rizzo.

"We've all felt it," Rizzo said. "You get that little pit in your stomach and it's the same feeling I had when [Wilson] Ramos went out."

RELATED: HOW JUDGE COULD HELP NATS KEEP HARPER IN WASHINGTON

The Nats' star right fielder was running out a ground ball to first base when his left leg hit a slippery base, causing his knee to hyperextend. Harper immediately went down and grabbed his knee in agony. He eventually had to be helped off the field.

The team has been plagued with injuries this season, from the bullpen to outfielders.

After the initial shock of seeing one of his best players go down with what could have been a season-ending injury, Rizzo told the Sports Junkies he went in 'GM mode.'

"You immediately go to GM mode. We immediately called our farm director, Doug Harris, and made arrangements to get Michael Taylor on a plane. Pull him out of the game in double A, get him on a plane and bring him here because we knew that we needed a player that next day. You know, you gotta change gears quick."

"Then I went down to see Harp in the clubhouse. When I saw him walking up the stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse, I was a little bit relieved. You never know with those injuries. Until you get the MRIs, until you see maybe a day or two later what transpired in there, you have to be cautiously optimistic, I guess that it wasn't an [Adam] Eaton type of thing where you knew immediately that he was gone for the season."

While everyone was waiting to see the severity of Harper's injury, Mike Rizzo and his team were making a game plan.

"You go into your evaluation mode. You look at the depth of your roster. What's next? You get the cabinet together, we were all in the GM box watching the game, so we were all together and kind of put our heads together to try to come up with a plan.

"If it's a light injury, if it's a year-ending injury, what do we do? What are the plans? And you know, you put plans together. If I'm not mistaken it was like the first inning or second inning or something like that. It was early in the game, so we had three hours to lament over it and think about what we're trying to do and put a game plan together kind of on the fly. We literally had Michael Taylor flying into D.C. later that evening so we kind of had to turn things around pretty quickly."

Now that the GM knows Harper's injury is a significant bone bruise, what steps does the team take to get him back on the diamond as soon as possible?

"If I had a time frame for you, I would give it to you. But there's no sense of putting on a time frame because the injury, the bone bruise, has to heal before he can do any type of rehab, stimulated rehab, baseball activities. He's not doing anything below the waist.

"He's doing his workout programs. He's doing all his weight work, all his cardio, all the things he has to do above the waist. But, we don't want him weight-bearing impacting with running and hitting and spinning, you know when you stick a swing and that type of thing, until he feels much much better and he's asymptomatic with the pain in his knee."

Rizzo said Harper will eventually progress to an AlterG treadmill, an anti-gravity treadmill that speeds up the rehabilitation process by supporting as much or as little body weight as needed.

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Howie Kendrick hits two homeruns for Nationals against former team

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Howie Kendrick hits two homeruns for Nationals against former team

WASHINGTON -- Gio Gonzalez allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, Howie Kendrick hit two solo home runs and the Washington Nationals snapped the Los Angeles Angels' winning streak at six with a 3-1 victory Tuesday night.

Gonzalez (11-5) struck out four and issued three walks in lowering his home ERA to 1.79, now the best in baseball. The left-hander, who was three outs from a no-hitter July 31 at Miami, allowed his first hit two hits into the fifth against the Angels.

Los Angeles, which had climbed into an AL wild-card spot during its streak, lost for the first time since Aug. 7. Tyler Skaggs (1-3) allowed the two home runs to Kendrick and five other hits while striking out six in five innings.

Kendrick has homered in three of his past four at-bats after hitting a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning Sunday night against San Francisco.

Playing their third game since Bryce Harper went on the 10-day disabled list with a bone bruise in his left knee, the Nationals got an insurance run in the sixth on a wild pitch by Bud Norris and an error on Angels first baseman Albert Pujols. That provided some extra breathing room when Cliff Pennington hit a home run in the eighth, the first run Brandon Kintzler has allowed since being traded to Washington from Minnesota.

With Ryan Madson's availability in question after dealing with a blister Sunday, the Nationals went with Matt Albers in the seventh, Kintzler in the eighth and Sean Doolittle in the ninth. Doolittle picked up his 12th save of the season and his ninth with Washington.