By John Jackson and Jeff Arnold
Special to MLB.com |
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester battled through five innings to get his first victory of the season, but it was his single in the fourth inning that may have been his biggest contribution to the Cubs' 8-3 victory on Tuesday night.
The light-hitting Lester singled with two out and none on to prolong the inning. Two batters later, Kyle Schwarber crushed a three-run homer to snap a 2-2 tie and begin the Cubs' march to a comfortable win.
"I asked [Eric Hinske], our hitting coach, I said, 'Man, I can't swing at the curveball. I don't know why I can't swing at the curveball,'" Lester said. "He said, 'Well, just swing at it.' I said, 'Good point. What's the worst that can happen? I strike out again?'
"I saw it and swung at it this time for whatever reason, and was able to put the barrel to the ball and get a base hit. I'm just up there trying not to look too much like an idiot and not get hurt."
An inning later, Javier Baez, who went 4-for-4 and finished a double shy of the cycle, put away the game with a two-run, two-out triple.
Lester (1-1) allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with five walks (one intentional) and five strikeouts in five innings, but it was good enough.
"We caught Lester on one of his lesser appearances, and we just couldn't capitalize," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I think we walked five times and had a couple of baserunners, but we couldn't get anything going."
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) entered with a three-start winning streak and hadn't allowed more than two runs in any outing this season, but he was roughed up for six runs on eight hits in four innings.
"It wasn't a strike zone tonight; it was a ball zone," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's what it was. I don't know what was going on. Both sides. That's why I wasn't arguing. I mean, the calls to me appeared to be the same on both sides. It was frustrating for both teams."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Lester ends strong: After the Cubs' four-run fourth, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and were perhaps one hit away from getting back in the game. But Lester -- after falling behind, 3-1 -- got Michael Saunders to ground out weakly to first base, scoring a run to make it 6-3. Then, with runners on second and third, Lester struck out Tommy Joseph on his 106th (and final) pitch -- a low, outside changeup -- to end the threat.
"I made a really, really big pitch to Saunders, the 3-1 cutter for the ground ball," Lester said. "That was a big turning point right there. If he takes that right there, that ball was borderline down, and you're probably not going to get the call, and we're walking in a run with still just one out. That was big right there to get that ground ball. Now you're only one pitch away from getting out of it, and we were able to make some big pitches to Joseph."
Baez caps big night: With the Cubs holding a comfortable lead, about the only late drama was whether Baez could hit for the cycle. He took his final at-bat leading off the eighth just needing a double for the feat. He dropped a hit in front of right fielder Saunders, and those remaining in the Wrigley Field crowd wanted him to try to stretch it, but he stopped and settled for a single.
"Before the at-bat, I was talking to [Anthony] Rizzo and said, 'OK, if you hit a ball into the gap, an easy triple, do you stop at second?" Maddon said. "He said no. I said I would. He said, 'I'm going for OPS.' So there are two ways of looking at it."
"I feel like last year was almost perfect -- everything. We were kind of spoiled with the whole year. It's going to be hard to kind of turn the page on it and stop comparing it to last year, which is something we would love to do." -- Kris Bryant, on the 2017 season
"It's a good lineup, it's a deep lineup. But I didn't command, really, anything tonight. It would have been different if I was [commanding pitches]." -- Hellickson
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cubs challenged an out call against Bryant on a ground ball to shortstop in the third inning, believing he beat the throw from Freddy Galvis. After a replay review, the ruling on the field was upheld (the call stands).
In the fourth inning, the Phillies challenged an out call against Joseph at second base on a pickoff throw by catcher Willson Contreras. Joseph appeared to get his hand back to the bag before the tag by second baseman Baez, and after a review, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: On Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. ET, Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will be in search of his first victory since Sept. 21 of last year, when he allowed three runs on six hits against the White Sox. Eickhoff (0-2, 3.56 ERA) surrendered a season-high five earned runs in his most recent outing, against the Dodgers on April 28.
Cubs: Right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-1 4.66 ERA) looks to bounce back in the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday after allowing five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox last Friday. It was the first time Arrieta hadn't pitched at least five innings in a start since Aug. 28, 2014, at Cincinnati. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT.