Cubs’ Rizzo (ankle) returns earlier than expected

Cubs’ Rizzo (ankle) returns earlier than expected

First baseman Anthony Rizzo was back in the starting lineup for the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night, four days after leaving a game with a sprained ankle and subsequent reports that he could miss the end of the regular season.

Rizzo, who batted leadoff for the Cubs as they faced the St. Louis Cardinals to begin a four-game series heavy on postseason implications, began the day batting .289 with an on-base mark of .404, and 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. He struck out in his first at-bat and then homered in his second.

The Cardinals began the day leading both the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers by three games in the NL Central. The Cubs and Brewers were also tied for the NL’s second wild-card spot, 1 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals, who held the first wild card.

The Brewers defeated the visiting San Diego Padres 5-1, while the Nationals were idle.

Rizzo, a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner, injured his ankle on Sunday while charging toward home plate to field a bunt. He was helped off the field without the ability to put any weight on the foot.

Earlier indications were that Rizzo would be in a walking boot for five to seven days before another evaluation.

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