CHICAGO (AP) — Trea Turner’s renewed focus on the little things is producing big results.
Turner reached base four times and scored twice, Yan Gomes and Howie Kendrick each drove in two runs and the surging Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 7-2 on Saturday.
Turner got Washington off to a quick start, going 2 for 3 with two walks and a stolen base to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 31 games, the longest current streak in the majors.
“He’s taking his walks,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “The biggest thing, with two strikes, he’s figuring out a way to put the ball in play. It’s been working. When he gets on base, he creates havoc. Usually when he’s on there, especially early, he tends to score.”
Washington has won four straight and six of seven to extend its lead over Chicago for the top NL wild-card spot to three games. The Nationals have scored a total of 97 runs in their last nine games.
Anthony Rendon stretched his hitting streak to 11 games and drove in a run.
A day after losing to the Nationals 9-3, the Cubs dropped a second consecutive game at Wrigley Field for the first time since June 25-26 against Atlanta. First baseman Anthony Rizzo exited in the fifth inning with tightness in his middle back — he missed time in May with back trouble.
Manager Joe Maddon said he had no update on Rizzo following the game.
Washington starter Joe Ross, who had to leave his last start after being hit in the right shin by a comebacker, allowed two runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Five Nationals relievers combined to hold Chicago to one hit over the final 4 2/3 innings.
Wander Suero (4-7) got the final two outs of the fifth to get the win.
“Since we started winning quite a bit, the bullpen’s been huge for us,” Turner said.
Jose Quintana (11-8) allowed four earned runs in four innings and had his career-high streak of seven straight wins snapped. The left-hander hadn’t lost since June 22 against the New York Mets.
Nicholas Castellanos had two hits and an RBI for the Cubs.
“They moved the ball when they had to; we did not,” Maddon said. “They ran a little bit. They created their own runs because they got some really good team speed.”
Turner led off the game with an infield single and Adam Eaton followed with a bunt for a base hit down the third base line. After Eaton beat the throw, Rizzo threw to second base attempting to nab Turner, but second baseman Tony Kemp wasn’t looking and the throw sailed into left, allowing Turner to go to third.
Rendon followed with a sacrifice fly.
Washington stretched it to 5-0 with a four-run third. Turner again led off with a single, Eaton had an infield single and Rendon walked to load the bases. Juan Soto drove in the first run with a grounder, Kendrick followed with an RBI single and Gomes hit a two-run single.
Chicago made it 5-1 on a Castellanos’ RBI single in the third. The Cubs added another run in the fifth, but wasted an opportunity to move even closer.
Castellanos singled with one out and Kris Bryant walked. Jonathan Lucroy — pinch hitting for Rizzo — doubled to left to chase Ross. Both runners would have scored easily, but the ball hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double.
Bryant and Lucroy were stranded as Javier Báez struck out and Kyle Schwarber popped out against Suero.
The Cubs loaded the bases with two out in the fourth. Pinch hitter Ian Happ worked the count to 3-2 and appeared to take a pitch outside for ball four. Plate umpire Vic Carapazza, though, called it a strike. Happ protested and was quickly ejected.
“It’s tough when you do your job, come off the bench, have a great at-bat,” Happ said. “It would have really kept the momentum going there, scored another run.”
Like all teams wearing the white version of the Players Weekend uniforms, the Cubs position players were supposed to wear white hats with the pitcher wearing black to not obscure the baseball in anyway.
But on Friday, they decided to wear blue hats in the field so everyone would have the same color hats. The team was contacted by the league office after the game and told that wasn’t allowed.
Nationals: LHP Sean Doolittle (right knee tendinitis) threw off the mound Thursday and Friday. “I can’t put a timetable on (his return), but we’re hoping it’s sooner than later,” Martinez said.
Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-5, 3.65 ERA) starts the finale of the three-game series on Sunday looking to become the first 16-game winner in the NL. LHP Cole Hamels (7-4, 3.73) pitches for the Cubs.
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