Contreras, Avila homers lead Cubs over Nationals 7-4

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CHICAGO (AP) — Willson Contreras homered and drove in three runs, Alex Avila homered for his first hit with the Cubs and Chicago beat the Washington Nationals 7-4 on Saturday to even the series between division leaders.

Kris Bryant and Jon Jay each added a run-scoring hit as the Cubs snapped a three-game losing streak.

Bryce Harper hit his 28th homer and threw out a runner at third base for the Nationals.

Saturday was supposed to be a day off for Contreras — with Avila making his first start after being acquired on Monday — but manager Joe Maddon started Contreras in left field to keep his hot bat in the lineup. He entered batting .429 with two homers and eight RBIs in the first four games of the home stand.

John Lackey (9-9) allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in five innings to win his fourth straight start. Wade Davis got the final three outs — striking out Harper, the potential tying run, to end it — for his 23rd save.

Washington starter Edwin Jackson (2-2) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings.

Harper's solo shot in the first gave the Nationals a quick lead, but the Cubs responded with four in the bottom of the inning. Bryant drove in the first run with a double and Contreras followed with an RBI single to score Bryant. After a single by Ben Zobrist — Contreras was thrown out by Harper trying to advance to third — Avila's two-run shot made it 4-1.

Washington scored twice in the fourth to make it 4-3. Anthony Rendon had a sacrifice fly and Matt Wieters added an RBI single.

Contreras' two-run blast off Matt Grace in the sixth was for a 6-3 lead and Jay's RBI single in the seventh made it 7-3.

The Nationals added an unearned run in the eighth to cap the scoring.


Wieters, Washington's catcher, was ejected following the sixth by home plate umpire Chad Whitson. After Chicago's Jason Heyward struck out swinging to end the inning, Wieters turned toward Whitson and said something as he was leaving the field. Whitson immediately tossed Wieters.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (stiff neck) won't take his regular turn on Sunday, but is improving and hopes to start Monday against Miami.

Cubs: 3B Bryant admits he still is bothered by a nagging injury to the pinkie on his left hand. "It's something you've got to play through," he said. "It's probably going to be there for another couple weeks."


Cubs LHP Jon Lester (8-6, 3.96 ERA) will face RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 15.75) in the finale of the three-game series. Lester is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, while Fedde will be making his second major league start.

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