Lester, (17-4, 2.40 ERA) went eight strong innings and allowed just three hits on a sultry day in St. Louis. The veteran lefty also hit a single which drove in a run to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. It turns out, it was all the team would need because Lester may have pitched his best game of the season. He had his fastball, curve, and changeup working and kept hitters off balance the entire game. Only four runners reached first base and none reached second. Reliever Hector Rondon pitched the 9th inning to finish the game.
David Ross hit a two run homer in the top of the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Rizzo slugged his 30th home run of the season in the top of the 6th inning. He added his 31st in a three run top of the 9th inning, a two run shot.
Rizzo joins select company. He and Billy Williams are the only Cubs batting left-handed who have hit 30 home runs and driven in 100 rbi’s in multiple years. Rizzo did it last year and now he has 31 home runs and 101 rbi’s for the season. Williams did it three times in his Hall of Fame Career.
The Cubs got to Cards starter Carlos Martinez (14-8, 3.15). He was touched for four runs and eight hits in six innings.
Chicago (93-52) has a magic number of one to clinch a division title. Today, the Cubbies clinched at least a wild-card berth.
The Cubs, who have fashioned a dominant season, are looking for bigger goals. “Let’s do it, the sooner, the better,” said manager Joe Maddon, post-game, to the Associated Press. Maddon noted he wanted to have time to plan out the stretch run and get his team ready for the playoff-push.
It’s been quite a season for the Cubbies. Players are having career years. From Kris Bryant to Anthony Rizzo, to Addison Russell. The pitching staff has been stellar. 93 victories in mid-September. Now, they return to Wrigley Field with a good chance to claim the Central Division with a win.