Best of MLB: Matt Wieters' late grand slam lifts Nationals over Cubs

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Best of MLB: Matt Wieters' late grand slam lifts Nationals over Cubs

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 Brian Goodwin homered for the NL East-leading Nationals, who had dropped three of four.

Willson Contreras homered twice for NL Central-leading Chicago. The Cubs closed out a 2-4 homestand against contenders Arizona and Washington before pulling on leather vests and bandanas for their "Easy Rider"-themed six-game road trip out west (see full recap).

Souza hits walk-off homer to lift Rays over Brewers
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Steven Souza Jr. homered off Milwaukee reliever Jacob Barnes leading off the ninth inning Sunday to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 2-1 win over the Brewers.

Souza's 24th home run helped the Rays salvage a win in a three-game series in which they scored only two runs. It was Souza's first walkoff homer with the Rays.

Most of the game was a pitchers' duel between the Rays' Chris Archer and the Brewers' Jimmy Nelson.

Tommy Hunter (1-2) got the win after tossing 1 1/3 innings of relief.

Barnes (3-3) threw only two pitches in relief of Nelson, who gave up one run on six hits while striking out nine in eight innings (see full recap).

Astros stun Blue Jays with four-run 9th
HOUSTON -- Juan Centeno hit an RBI single with two outs that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, lifting the Houston Astros over the Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 Sunday.

Jose Altuve singled off All-Star closer Roberto Osuna (3-3) to begin the Houston ninth and one-out singles by Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez loaded the bases. Carlos Beltran grounded into a forceout that scored a run, and Alex Bregman hit a tying, two-run triple.

Centeno followed with a liner over the head of leaping first baseman Justin Smoak and into shallow right field to win it for the AL West leaders.

Nori Aoki had a two-run homer, his first hit since being traded from Houston to Toronto last Monday, during a four-run seventh that gave the Blue Jays a 6-3 lead.

Francis Martes (4-1) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Osuna allowed five hits and four runs while getting only two outs for his seventh blown save this season (see full recap).

Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

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Alex Cobb? Matt Klentak discusses replacing Jerad Eickhoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies signed free-agent right-hander Jake Arrieta earlier this week.

That's probably going to be the extent of their pitching additions for now.

Jerad Eickhoff is out until at least May with a strained right lat muscle and that creates a sizable hole in the Phillies rotation.

The hole is likely to be filled internally, according to general manager Matt Klentak. The team is not likely to make a run at Alex Cobb, who remains on the free-agent market.

"I doubt it," Klentak said when asked if he would look outside the organization to fill Eickhoff's spot. "I don't think we have to. I think a lot of our guys have shown very well in camp. They have gotten their pitch counts up, they're getting to the point of being fully stretched out.

"More than anything, I think we're going to have some tough decisions on figuring out who is in the rotation, who is in the bullpen, who goes into the Triple-A rotation, who goes into the Double-A rotation. We've got a lot of tough decisions to make on that front, but I don't think we're in a position where we have to go outside. We have a lot of candidates to take the ball at the big league level so we'll be fine."

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. Arrieta will be in the rotation, though he might need an extra week or so to get ready. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are likely to hold down spots. That leaves Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr., Jake Thompson, Drew Hutchison and Tom Eshelman in the running for the final spot in the five-man rotation. Eshelman, strike-thrower extraordinaire, was the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year last year and projects to be in Philadelphia before long. However, it might not be at the outset of the season because he is not on the 40-man roster. Neither is Hutchison.

The Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 11 so they could employ some creative roster construction until then. They could go with four starters and an extra reliever or bench man. Or they could bring an extra starter and "piggyback" him with Arrieta, a move that would allow Arrieta to make an abbreviated start during the first week of the season.

"There's a decent chance we open the season with somewhat of a non-traditional 25-man roster, not because we're trying to be cute but because we don't need the fifth starter until the 11th," Klentak said. "We're going to do whatever puts us in the best position to win those first 10 days of the season."

The Phillies made one transaction on Friday. They added utility man Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster. He had a provision in his minor-league contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 15. Florimon is a candidate for a spot on the Phillies' bench. The move doesn't guarantee that Florimon will win a spot, but it gives the team more time to evaluate him. To make room for Florimon, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment.

Florimon homered in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to Toronto in Clearwater Friday. Cam Rupp and Cesar Hernandez also homered. Velasquez gave up five hits and a run in 2⅔ innings. He struck out five.

In Lakeland, Pivetta allowed two runs over five innings as the Phils and Tigers played to a 6-6 tie. J.P. Crawford and Ryan Flaherty both homered.

Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

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Phillies lose Jerad Eickhoff for 6-8 weeks

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies' pitching staff has suffered a setback.

Jerad Eickhoff, projected as a member of the season-opening starting rotation, has been shut down with a strained right lat muscle, the area behind his shoulder. He will open the season on the disabled list and be sidelined into May, based on the team's six- to eight-week timetable for treatment and recovery.

Eickhoff, 27, spent time on the disabled list with a similar injury last season. That injury was technically called an upper back strain.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Eickhoff injured himself on one of the final pitches he threw during his last start.

Eickhoff led the Phillies' staff in ERA (3.65) while making 33 starts in 2016. He was limited to 24 starts and had a 4.71 ERA last year while making two trips to the DL. His second trip to the DL, which ended his season, was for a nerve irritation in his right hand. Eickhoff is in Philadelphia being checked by doctors.

"We want to ensure, and we're pretty confident, that it's not related in any way to the (nerve) stuff he was dealing with last year," manager Gabe Kapler said.

Kapler added, "It's a mild lat strain. There might be a blessing in disguise here. We're always thinking about keeping guys healthy and strong and limiting their total innings count. Those are things that are always on our mind so it's possible the innings are limited on the front end and then in September, October, he's strong and healthy and prepared to go through a full season."

With Eickhoff down, the Phillies suddenly have some openings in their rotation. Jake Arrieta, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, believes he can be ready for the first week of the season, but nothing is official. Aaron Nola will be the opening day starter and Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are good bets to be in the rotation. The final spot could go to Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr. or Tom Eshelman.

It is not known whether the Phillies would pursue free agent Alex Cobb. On Monday, general manager Matt Klentak said his offseason moves were likely complete.