Lester rebounds as Cubs shutout Brewers

by - Correspondent -
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

MILWAUKEE -- Apparently playing the Brewers was just what the doctor ordered. For an offense that put up zero runs over 18 consecutive innings, it only took until inning number two for the Cubs to take and keep the lead. Jon Lester returned to his usual form and cruised through six innings to a 8-0 shutout of the Brew Crew.

Despite Happ's struggle at the top, the rest of the lineup went to work. Willson Contreras started the second inning with a single. Addison Russell singled after an Albert Almora fielder's choice which put runners on second and third after a Russell advanced to second on the throw. Javier Baez worked a full count and then singled in both runners.

Jon Lester came up next, but he didn't have your typical pitcher's at-bat. He came out swinging and batted the first pitched back to the pitcher, Brent Suter. Suter had it deflect off of his glove and past second baseman Hernan Perez. Baez was aggressive when he left first base and, save for a slight hesitation rounding third, never took his foot off the gas until sliding in safely at home. The hesitation was Baez noticing that centerfielder Lorenzo Cain took his time getting to the ball.

It was a little more regular in the third inning with a simple Almora triple followed by a Russell double. Russell, in particular, has been effective lower in the order hitting to a .318 clip to start the year. Ben Zobrist, who started in right field, has also been hot hitting for a .400 average including two singles in tonight's game. Baez also had a great night at the plate, reaching all five times and raising his on-base percentage to .360 for the year.

Ian Happ did redeem himself in the eighth by singling into right field. It was his first hit since his home run on opening day. He stole second and scored on a Kris Bryant single.

Jason Heyward came in to bat for Steve Cishek in the ninth and clubbed his first home run of the season into the right-field seats. It came on the anniversary of his MLB debut when he hit a three-run homer against the Cubs back in 2010.

Jon Lester (1-0, 2.89 ERA) was fantastic pitching 6.0 innings allowing no runs and just three hits while striking out six and walking just one. He worked the outside of the plate well and kept a lot of balls on the ground. The only Brewer to figure him out was Jesus Aguilar who actually had all of the hits Lester allowed until Ryan Braun doubled in the bottom of the sixth.

Lester did get away with a few calls here and there, but none so controversial as the third strike in Travis Shaw's at-bat at the end of the sixth. He threw a fastball that tailed away from the left-handed hitting Shaw. The home plate umpire called it a strike, but both Shaw and Ryan Braun, who was standing on second, thought it wasn't close. The inning was over but Shaw kept jawing at the umpire and was tossed.

Of interesting note: Braun doubled into left field and Happ fielded the ball. Possibly because he was frustrated from his plate struggles, Happ threw the ball so hard he did a front flip from the momentum he generated with his arm. Braun was safe by a mile.

Hernan Perez, normally a second baseman, came into pitch in the ninth after Brewers closer Corey Knebel collapsed on the mound holding his hamstring. He forced Tommy LaStella to fly out to left on the first pitch.

The Cubs will continue their series in Milwaukee tomorrow. Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 1.50 ERA) will face Brandon Woodruff (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Game time is set for 8:10 PM.

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