Lester dominates as Cubs use homers to trump Giants

by - Senior Writer -
Cubs starter Jon Lester was marvelous on the night, pitching in Cy Young form from start to finish.
Cubs starter Jon Lester was marvelous on the night, pitching in Cy Young form from start to finish.

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have seemed to live and die by way of the solo home run ball thus far this season, with several of their victories coming in games in which hits were hard to come by, with the exception of solo blasts. Tonight was one such game, as the Cubs accrued a mere five hits against the San Francisco Giants but hit two solo shots to take an early 2-0 lead that was increased on a two-run shot later in the game. Never trailing, the Cubs won handily behind a great start by lefty Jon Lester on the hill, earning a 4-1 win in the second game of their four-game affair with the Giants.

Left fielder Kyle Schwarber incited the home run-hitting slugfest for the Cubs, as he jacked a solo shot to right off of Giants starter Johnny Cueto in the bottom of the second. Still in the process of finding himself after being removed from the leadoff spot, Schwarber has been good for the occasional big hit lately. He finished tonight's game 1-4 with two strikeouts. His home run was a doozy, though, reaching the Wrigley Rooftop bleachers for the first home run of that caliber since the rooftop was renovated. Schwarber now boasts seven dingers on the year.

Cueto, who has a reputation for giving up costly hits that mar otherwise solid outings, was victimized again in the ensuing inning, this time with Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward taking him deep. Another solo shot to right, the homer put the Cubs up 2-0 and marked J-Hey's fourth home run of 2017.

The Giants fell behind 4-0 as Cueto gave up his third long ball of the evening in the fourth inning, with first baseman Anthony Rizzo hitting a two-run round-tripper to right that scored third baseman Kris Bryant. Rizzo now has nine home runs and 26 RBI on the year and is certainly putting together an MVP-caliber season thus far.

In the pitching department for the Cubs, ace Jon Lester was absolutely dominant, stringing together his best start of the season. Pitching a complete-game four-hitter, Lester struck out 10 batters and earned his second straight win to move to 3-2 overall. His most impressive stat line might have been his pitch count, as it took him only 99 pitches to shut down the Giants in the incredibly fast game that lasted two hours and five minutes.

The game began with a one-hour rain delay that could have very well sparked the sluggishness seen at the plate on Tuesday night. Despite allowing four runs on three homers to increase his ERA to 4.64, Cueto (4-4) was decent, giving up only five hits and one walk while striking out eight. He earned the loss, nonetheless, as an RBI double to deep right in the in the top of the fifth by San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford was his only offensive aid. Lester's lone blemish of the night, Crawford's two-bagger scored catcher Buster Posey, who led off the inning with a double, for the Giants' only run (and only support for Cueto) of the game.

Although Bryant was the lone Chicago hitter to reach base more than once in the game, with one hit and one walk to his name, the Cubs came out on top, proving yet again that they are magical following rain delays. One of the Cubs' five hits came off of Ben Zobrist's bat, meaning that the veteran has now reached base in 22 straight games.

The Cubs moved to 23-21 with the 4-1 win, while the Giants fell to 20-27. Game three of the four-game series at Wrigley Field will commence tomorrow tonight with a first pitch time of 7:05 PM CST.

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