Lester dominates as Cubs scorch Reds
|Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 11:20 PM- -|
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester has gained quite a reputation over the years for being one of MLB’s most ineffective hitters, but he has experienced a surprising level of success at the dish this season. On Tuesday night, Lester helped propel the Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds with his bat, hitting a one-run double toward the Wrigley Field ivy in right-center during the bottom of the second that provided the Cubs with an early lead that they never relinquished.
Entering with an impressive 2.40 ERA, the second-best in the majors, Lester pitched well on the evening, throwing seven innings on the mound and striking out five. Allowing only one run, Lester pitched a gem and earned a win to move to 18-4 on the year and become the first National League pitcher to reach the 18-win plateau. As for his double, Lester picked up his fifth RBI of the season as a result of it. Prior the start of the 2016 campaign, the 32-year-old had collected only one RBI is his Major League career.
Reds pitcher Josh Smith, typically a reliever, made his first start of the season on Tuesday and struggled from the game’s inception, getting pulled after three innings on the bump and accruing a loss to drop to 3-2 overall. Not long after Lester’s second-inning double scored catcher David Ross to put Chicago up 1-0, the Cubs poured on the runs, shellacking Reds reliever Wandy Peralta in the bottom of the fourth.
A four-run inning, the bottom of the fourth featured two walks, one of which was of Lester, and three consecutive hits that provided the Cubs with a commanding 5-0 advantage. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who was 2-3 on the evening, hit an RBI single that was followed by an RBI double off the bat of left fielder Kris Bryant, who went 3-5. First baseman Anthony Rizzo capped off the torrid scoring affair with a two-run single to left.
Lester’s only blemish occurred in the top of the fifth, when Reds shortstop Jose Peraza hit an RBI triple to put the Reds on the board. Rizzo, who has 104 RBI on the season, batted in his third run of the game in the ensuing inning to effectively neutralize Peraza’s triple. Driving in the speedy Fowler, who had just stolen second, Rizzo’s hit produced his third RBI of the game and made the score 6-1 in favor of the North Siders.
The Cubs would maintain that sizable lead for the remainder of the matchup and, with tonight’s win, now stand at 96-55. The Reds, who are 63-88, will look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cubs tomorrow night. Young Reds starting pitcher Robert Stephenson will face off against veteran Cubs starter John Lackey. The first pitch is at 7:05 PM CST.