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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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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT