The Cubs were beaten handily the first two games against Arizona with the offense continuing to struggle. A strong start from Jon Lester kept Chicago in the game long enough to pull out a win today.
Lester and Diamondbacks starter, Robbie Ray, traded zeroes in the early innings. Lester had a relatively high pitch count, but had the strike out working early. The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 4th inning when Albert Almora doubled to right and Ben Zobrist singled to center to chase him home.
A double play derailed the rest of that inning, one of four the Northsiders hit into Wednesday. Big Jon protected the 1-0 lead until the 7th inning when AJ Pollock hit a solo homer to left to tie the game at one. Carl Edwards Jr. took over for Lester and pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the 8th with a big assist from the D-Backs defense. Javy Baez pinch hit and hit a tapper down the third base line. Third baseman Chris Owings tried to make the barehanded throw and it sailed, allowing Baez to make it to second. Tyler Chatwood pinch ran for Baez, who is still gimpy after getting spiked in the knee Tuesday night.
Ian Happ then drew a walk from reliever TJ McFarland to put two on with none out. Jason Heyward came to the plate and hit a soft grounder to second. Arizona got the force at second, then shortstop Nick Ahmed made an ill-advised throw to first that flew into the stands to score Chatwood. Pedro Strop came on for the save and secured the 2-1 win despite Heyward losing a Paul Goldschmidt fly ball in the sun that went for a double (Box score).
Why the Cubs Won
The Cubs pitching was outstanding on Wednesday. Lester, Edwards, and Strop didn’t walk a batter all day and only allowed five hits. The Diamondbacks defense also helped with two crucial errors in the 8th.
With Heyward running to first it seemed as if Ahmed had little chance of turning the double play in the 8th. Not attempting the throw would have put men on the corners with one out. With the way the Cubs were hitting, it’s not a guarantee that run comes home if not for the error.
Stats That Matter
- It was a very good start for Lester after a rough one last week: 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 7 K, and 0 BB. His command was good and he got a lot of whiffs on his changeup and cutter.
- Albert Almora was the only Cub with more than one hit or an extra base hit. And of course, he also made a diving catch to take away a hit early in the game.
That was a big win for the Cubs, with the offense on a mini-skid the pitching needed to step up and it did. The Brewers lost, so the Northsiders build their division lead back up to 2.5 games.
The Cubs look for a winning homestand on Thursday afternoon. Tyler Chatwood takes on Zack Godley at 1:20 pm CT in a game airing on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market only).