Cubs Recap: Jon Lester pitches Chicago to split of twin-bill
By Jake Misener
Jon Lester was stellar in Tuesday’s nightcap, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 2-1 win, evening the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While the Cubs’ offense was plagued with strikeouts (13 on the night) – the veteran southpaw did his part to hold the Pirates’ bats at-bay after Chicago dropped a tough one in the series opener earlier in the day.
Lester (10-10) turned in his first Chicago complete game for skipper Joe Maddon after Jason Hammel lasted less than four earlier in the day. It was clear early-on, though, that pitching would dominate as Lester’s counterpart, fellow lefty J.A. Happ stayed ahead of Chicago hitters all night long.
The Pittsburgh southpaw allowed both runs over 5 2/3 innings, scattering eight base hits and striking out eight. Chicago is on-pace to lead the league in strikeouts both at the plate and on the mound – something that has happened just five times in the last century.
Lester struck out eight, walking just one and scattering five hits – earning his 10th win of the season and setting things up for ace Jake Arrieta on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
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Chicago (83-61) opened the scoring early-on against Happ, when Anthony Rizzo drove in a run in the top of the first, plating Austin Jackson and giving the Cubs a 1-0 advantage.
The visitors would go on to add what proved to be a necessary insurance run in the top of the fifth when leadoff man Dexter Fowler squared up a Happ fastball, driving it into the gap in left-center field to push the Cubs’ edge to 2-0.
The only blemish on the line of Lester came in the bottom of the seventh when Michael Morse grounded a ball to the left of second, where Addison Russell induced a 6-4-3 double play that allowed Aramis Ramirez to score the lone tally for Pittsburgh (87-57).
Chicago and Pittsburgh will continue their four-game set on Wednesday at PNC Park.
Veteran A.J. Burnett will take the ball for the Pirates and will be opposed by Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, who is aiming to earn his 20th win of the season and become Chicago’s first 20-game winner since Jon Lieber.