The Cubs won a series where they were outscored and it couldn't have happened at a more opportune time. Jon Lester continues to prove that free agency can offer value at the top of the market. His deal seems like a bargain given the impact he has had on the organization, and outings like tonight's are subtle things that he does. The veteran southpaw pitched into the seventh inning and came one pitch away from completing seven strong innings without allowing an earned run to cross the plate. Big Jon Lester threw over 110 pitches and gave a taxed pitching staff length. Kris Bryant filled in for Rizzo at first place and did a lot of the work himself scoring three of the Cubs run including a clutch two out home run in seventh. Steve Cishek reminded everyone that he was a pretty solid closer when given the chance before, and the Cubs are now two games clear in the cut-throat Central.
Lorenzo Cain led off the game with a single, but he was erased quickly on a double play ball off the bat of Christian Yelich. Jesús Aguilar grounded out to David Bote at third to end the inning. Lester would surrender a single in each of the first three innings, but he pitched around without the runner even advancing into the scoring position. The horse was on his way to a much needed quality start.
Jason Heyward grounded out to first to start the bottom half of the first inning. Kris Bryant boucned the ball to Orlando Arcia but an error allowed Bryant to reach first base. Javier Báez ripped a single into right and the pair advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch. Willson Contreras grounded out to Aguilar to drive in Bryant for the first run of the game.
Lester was cruising but the wind and rain struck to start the fourth inning. Christian Yelich hit a hard fly ball that might have been out on another night. Instead the wind grabbed the ball and it bounced in front of a circling Kyle Schwarber. More embarassing for Schwarber was his initial inability to even find the ball which alloewd Yelich to easily reach third to lead off the frame. Aguilar bounced a groundball through the left side to drive in Yelich to tie the game. Lester struck out Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas back to back, but then gave up back to back singles to Hernán Pérez and Ben Gamel. Arcia bounced out to Javier Báez to end the inning with the game still level at one.
Chacín and Lester traded zeroes heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. The fourth inning didn't produce any runs, but a play in the bottom half of fourth deserves mention. Bote reached on a single to start the frame and Daniel Descalso bounced into an odd fielder's choice. Pérez attempted to get Bote at second and Joe West correcty called him safe. Arcia fired to get Descalso at first by a country mile. It was a very close play but one that the Brewers chose not to even review. Thought it was worth noting the long time ump got a very close play right in real time since we are so quick to point out the mistakes.
Lester and Heyward struck out to start the Cubs half of the fifth as Chacín continued to largely baffle Cubs bats. Kris Bryant bounced his second single and he scored on Báez's double to take the lead again. Contreras flew out to end the inning, but the Cubs now held a 2-1 edge. That slim margin was in danger almost instantly in the top of the sixth. Aguilar pulled a double and then Grandal bounced an infield single to advance Aguilar to third with no outs. Lester punched out Moustakas for the important first out. Pérez hit a soft grounder towards short that Javy charged and fired to the plate for the second out of the inning. There are very shortstops in the game that make that play and it kept the Cubs ahead without a review. Ben Gamel hit a hard fly ball but with Albert Almora Jr. shaded the correct made a grab in full sprint to end the inning.
Chacín registered the quality start by completing a scoreless sixth inning. Lester retired the first two batters in the seventh inning. He started the inning already over a hundred pitches. Lester walked Cain on four pitches and then Yelich bounced a single back up the middle to end Lester's night. Brandon Kintzler struck out Aguilar on a beautiful sequence of changeup and fastball for a final called strike of the seventh.
Adrian Houser took over for Chacín in the seventh. ALmora singled to start the frame and Addison Russell who had entered on a double switched sacrificed him into scoring position. Heyward hit a pop fly for the second out.Kris Bryant then hit a low line drive into the basket to give the Cubs some breathing room. Brandon Kintzler pitched around a walk in the eighth inning for another inning of work. Steve Cishek than made even quicker work of the Brewers in the ninth inning. The Cubs win in front of a national audience and take their biggest lead of 2019.
The Cubs played 24 innings in constant state of rain and pulled off two hard fought wins. Jon Lester certainly showed up to work today, but he was far from alone in that regard. Thankfully the Cubs are vastly different than Newman.