Cubs crush 3, cruise as Lester dazzles in SD

Cubs crush 3, cruise as Lester dazzles in SD

SAN DIEGO -- The last time Addison Russell and Kris Bryant played at Petco Park was in July when they started for the National League All-Star team. On Monday night, they showed why they deserved those honors.

Russell hit a solo homer and sacrifice fly, Bryant added his 32nd homer and Jason Heyward smacked a two-run homer in his return to the lineup to back Jon Lester and lift the Cubs to a 5-1 victory over the Padres. Lester, also named to the NL All-Star team, picked up his 10th win in his last 11 decisions, dating to May 27.

Russell also made the defensive play of the game in the eighth when he robbed Wil Myers' of a potential hit and possible RBI, snaring the ball and somehow getting to his feet in time to make the throw.

"Not many guys make that play," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Somebody said it was 110 miles an hour off the bat, and to pick it clean like that, that's pretty spectacular."

Said Russell: "It's just instinct."

Russell's tremendous stop

With his home run, Bryant moved into a tie with the Rockies' Nolan Arenado for the NL lead, and is first in the league in runs scored with 100. Bryant is the first Cubs player under the age of 24 to hit 30 homers and score 100 runs in a single season.

Edwin Jackson, still being paid by the Cubs after they released the right-hander in July 2015, took the loss in his seventh start for the Padres. Maddon had Jackson in Tampa Bay, and before Monday's game, said the Cubs would have to get to the right-hander early. Russell did just that, hitting his home run with one out in the second. Jackson was lifted after five innings.

"There's probably one pitch he really wants back, and it's Jason Heyward," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... That's a tough lineup tonight. You look at the end of five innings, you give up just three runs, you don't feel so bad about it. That's where he was. He was on the cusp of a very respectable outing against a really good offense. I don't necessarily think he's that far off."

Added Jackson: "The one that was kind of the dagger in the heart was the Jason Heyward home run. At the end of the day, the hits came on the balls that weren't well-located. You've just got to do a better job of getting ahead in the count."

Chicago now has won 20 of its last 25 games.

Vroom, vroom: Russell totaled 13 home runs in his rookie season, and this year is on pace for 22. He connected on a slider from Jackson with one out in the second for his fourth homer in his last four games (he hit two Sunday). With his sacrifice fly in the second, Russell now has 80 RBIs, tops among NL shortstops. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks holds the franchise record for most RBIs by a shortstop (143 in 1959).

If you didn't feel Russell deserved to be the starting NL shortstop, look at him now.

"Just watch me over the course of the year," Russell said. "The numbers may not be great, but I contribute to my team every single day. We all have each others' backs and we're pushing forward."

Russell opens the scoring

Packed like Sardinas: Second baseman Luis Sardinas looked sharp in his Padres debut, going 1-for-3 with a trio of impressive defensive plays. He made two running catches in shallow right -- one after a minor collision with right fielder Patrick Kivlehan. Then, in the fifth, he made a charging backhand play on a Javier Baez grounder, before firing to first base for the final out of the frame. Sardinas will play shortstop primarily and figures to play regularly with San Diego. More >

"I think the biggest thing is just having more of a chance to play," said Sardinas, who was traded earlier this month after receiving scarce playing time in Seattle. "[With a] little more opportunity, they want me to work on some things, get in some more games and develop the talent that I have."

Sardinas makes a dangerous catch

Welcome back: Heyward, who began the day batting .225, did not play during the Cubs' three-game series in Denver. All Maddon wanted from the outfielder was to relax and reset. After Bryant led off the fifth with his home run, Anthony Rizzo doubled and two outs later, Heyward launched his sixth homer of the season and first since July 29 to open a 5-0 lead. It wasn't all good as Heyward was charged with his first error of the year when he misplayed Brett Wallace's ball in the sixth.

"There's not a more professional guy who I've been around than him," Lester said of Heyward. "That dugout was more than ecstatic for him to make that good swing."

Heyward's two-run homer

On-base machine: With his leadoff single in the bottom of the first, Padres center fielder Travis Jankowski extended his on-base streak to 21 games. Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez -- whose streak had reached 27 -- finished his night in Oakland 0-for-4, giving Jankowski the longest active streak in the Major Leagues. But Jankowski followed that single by attempting an ill-advised delayed steal of third base, where he was thrown out.

Ross throws out Jankowski

"There's not a lot of ways to beat Jon Lester when you don't handle left-handed pitching well. So you to take chances. But you've got to take better chances, and we'll learn from it." -- Green on the Padres' two baserunning blunders from Jankowski and Myers

Lester posted his 20th quality start, tied with the Giants' Madison Bumgarner and the Tigers' Justin Verlander for most in the Major Leagues. Since the All-Star break, Lester is 5-0 and has given up 11 earned runs over 43 1/3 innings in seven outings.

"I don't really like quality starts," Lester said. "I think it's kind of a made-up stat that helps guys who don't go deep in the ballgames. I think quality starts should go to the seventh inning, more than the sixth. As a starter, I feel better if I get through the seventh. I try to get 200 innings, and that means I'm doing my job."

Lester escapes the threat

Jake Arrieta will make his 25th start of the season on Tuesday night at Petco Park. The right-hander is coming off a start in which he had trouble with his command, walking a career-high seven batters. He's 9-2 with a 3.29 ERA on the road. First pitch will be at 9:10 p.m. CT.

Padres: Christian Friedrich takes the ball for what could be his final start of the season, having already surpassed his career-high in innings. The left-hander was sharp in Tampa Bay in his last time out, allowing just two first-inning runs over 6 2/3 frames. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.