Lester, Cubs labor past Phillies

Send a link to a friend  Share

[May 03, 2017]  CHICAGO -- Jon Lester overcame a tight strike zone and finally earned a victory.

The Cubs left-hander worked five rocky innings, and the bottom and top of the Chicago batting order came through in an 8-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Lester (1-1) allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and five walks while striking out five.

"There wasn't a strike zone tonight, it was a ball zone," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The calls appeared to be the same on both sides, (so) that's why I wasn't arguing. (But) it was frustrating for both teams."

Leadoff batter Kyle Schwarber clubbed a three-run home run, and No. 2 hitter Kris Bryant and No. 9 hitter Javier Baez each added solo shots. Baez also tripled and had a career-high four hits as Chicago (14-12) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Schwarber went 1-for-5 with his first home run since April 18. Bryant was 2-for-4 with his fifth homer and first triple.

"It takes one at-bat to have a great night," Maddon said. "That's what I tell them when anybody's struggling like that. ... Schwarber had a great night."

Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) had difficult night, lasting a season-low four innings. He allowed a season-high six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out a pair.

"That wasn't Hellickson's best performance," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was a little off. He hung two changeups and a curveball -- he located them poorly -- for the home runs."

The Phillies (12-13) scored their 26th first-inning run of the season when Aaron Altherr lined his third homer into the left-center-field basket for a 1-0 lead.

Bryant replied with a one-out, bases-empty homer in the Cubs' first.

Baez clubbed his second home run in as many nights for a 2-1 lead to start the third.

Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph doubled into the right field corner to drive home Michael Saunders with one out in the fourth for a 2-2 tie.

In the Cubs' fourth, Schwarber broke out of a 2-for-21 slump with his fourth homer of the season -- a two-out drive to right that plated Lester and Baez for a 5-2 lead.

Bryant followed with his first triple and scored on Ben Zobrist's double to make it 6-2.

Lester faced a bases-loaded situation with one out in the fifth, and Saunders brought home Cesar Hernandez from third on a fielder's choice grounder to cut the deficit to 6-3. Lester escaped further damage by striking out Joseph to end the inning.

[to top of second column]

Cubs second baseman Javier Baez (9) hits a two RBI triple in the fifth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

"I made a really, really big pitch to Saunders -- a 3-and-1 cutter for the ground ball," Lester said. "That was a big turning point right there because if he takes that and we're walking in (another) run with just one out ... (Then) we were able to make some big pitches to Joseph to get out of that inning."

Lester improved to 7-0 all-time against Philadelphia.

"I really couldn't let (Lester) go much longer," Maddon said. "I know he's able to get out of jams, but it was 106 (pitches) and closing in on 110 after five. That's a big number."

Mackanin said, "We caught Lester on one of his lesser appearances, and we just couldn't capitalize. I think we walked five times and had a few baserunners but couldn't get anything going."

Chicago scored twice off reliever Mark Leiter Jr. in the fifth with Baez providing the big blow -- a two-out triple to right that scored Addison Russell and Willson Contreras for an 8-3 lead.

Altherr went 2-for-3 to lead the Phillies' attack.

"Altherr swung the bat well," Mackanin said. "Other than that, not a lot of offense to brag about."

NOTES: Philadelphia's 26 first-inning runs rank second in the majors behind the Milwaukee Brewers' 28. ... Phillies RHP Aaron Nola, on the disabled list due to a lower back sprain, threw a bullpen session Monday. He holds out hope he could return to the rotation this weekend at home against Washington. ... The Phillies send RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-2, 3.56 ERA) against Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (3-1, 4.66 ERA) on Wednesday in the third game of the series. ... Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber, who came up to the majors as a catcher, saw his first action behind the plate this season as he worked two innings Monday in a 10-2 loss. ... Chicago 3B Kris Bryant received his 2016 NL Most Valuable Player award in a pregame ceremony on Tuesday.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Back to top