Lester notched his first win in his longest outing with the Cubs. The lefty -- who began the day 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA, the worst ERA in the first month of the season in his career -- gave up three hits over seven innings.
"This is a big day for me, personally," Lester said. "Obviously, I would've liked to have had [the first win] happen a little while ago, but that's not the case. Today's a big day. We'll celebrate this, have some fun with it, and tomorrow, back to work." More >
Wily Peralta took the loss, serving up Russell's homer, which landed in the empty left-field bleachers, currently under construction as part of the Wrigley Field renovations. Peralta struck out six and scattered eight hits over six innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED First time for everything: Russell christened the new bleachers in left field with his first Major League home run, connecting off Peralta to lead off the third. Russell did not play Wednesday, and Thursday was an off-day. Part of the rationale for the break was that manager Joe Maddon wanted to give the 21-year-old a chance to catch his breath. Said Maddon: "Sometimes it just takes that moment to really sit back and arrive at that point, and hopefully that's going to happen." It did on Friday.
"It feels good, and it was even more special because I'm here at Wrigley," Russell said. More >
Help from his friends: Peralta surrendered three hits and retired only one batter (Bryant on a strikeout) in the first inning, yet he kept the Cubs off the scoreboard. Center fielder Gerardo Parra accounted for the first out with a strong throw to third base to retire Dexter Fowler trying to take an extra bag on a single by Jorge Soler, and catcher Martin Maldonado ended the inning by throwing out Anthony Rizzo trying to steal second base on a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. In the sixth, Peralta got another assist from right fielder Ryan Braun, who made an on-target throw to retire Starlin Castro trying to go from first to third on a single. More >
"You've got to give them credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the Brewers. "Parra made a great play and threw it barehanded against a really fast runner. Braun moving to his left away from the play -- those are absolute indicators to keep going. You have to give their defense credit."
"It's a good team. All that young talent last year, you add two more young guys [Bryant and Russell] they really like, and then you add the free agents -- [Jason] Hammel, Lester, Fowler. They've added some nice pieces to a really great young group of players." -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke on the improved Cubs
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Russell is the youngest player in the National League at 21, but he's not the youngest to hit a home run for the Cubs. Danny Murphy was 18 when he connected for the Cubs on Sept. 13, 1960. Murphy finished his brief career with four home runs. Castro was 20 years old when he hit his first home run in his first big league at-bat in May 2010.
The Cubs finished the month of April with a 12-8 record, their first winning April since a 17-10 record in 2008. The 12 wins were the most since going 12-14 in April 2011.
Javier Baez played his first game with Triple-A Iowa on Thursday, and he went 1-for-6 with a double and three strikeouts. He had been on the bereavement list after the death of his sister, Noely.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers:Mike Fiers remains the only member of Milwaukee's pitching rotation yet to make a quality start, and he has lasted just four innings in each of his last two outings. The Friendly Confines have been just that for Fiers, who is 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA in three career games (two starts) at Wrigley Field.
Cubs:Jake Arrieta starts Saturday in Game 2 of the Cubs' weekend series vs. the Brewers. Arrieta has thrown quality starts in each of his first four starts this season. He is 2-2 with a 2.59 ERA in five career starts vs. the Brewers. First pitch will be 1:20 p.m. CT.