CUBS 8, CARDINALS 5
CHICAGO -- The Cubs made Jon Lester's job easier by staking him to an early lead.
Lester was dominant through six innings of two-hit ball in his 100th start with the Cubs, Jason Heyward hit a two-run home run and Chicago defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 8-5 on Thursday.
Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber each had two RBI as Chicago took a 6-1 lead after two innings. Every Cubs starter had a hit, including three by Anthony Rizzo and two each by Heyward, Schwarber and Javier Baez.
Heyward's home run and a triple by Javier Baez were the only extra-base hits as Chicago sprayed 12 singles around Wrigley Field.
"This is so much fun to watch," Cubs Manager Joe Maddon said. "Keep your launch angles, keep your exit velocities, give me a good at-bat. Seeing inside the ball, using the whole field. With that you'll see better situational hitting, better batting average. That's just good hitting."
Lester (2-0) didn't allow a hit until Jedd Gyorko lined a single to left with one out in the fifth. The left-hander gave a first-inning unearned run, struck out seven and walked one.
"Everything was good," Lester said. "Any time you have six runs in the first two innings, it always helps."
Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect ninth to complete a five-hitter and remain perfect in three save chances.
Ten of Chicago's first 16 batters reached against Luke Weaver (2-1), who allowed 6 runs and 9 hits in 4 innings. He had yielded only 4 runs over 17 1/3 innings in 3 previous starts.
"Just balls hit well to the opposite side again," Manager Mike Matheny said. "He made his adjustment, but it was six runs later when he started to get locked in in the third. We were lucky to get him through four."
Weaver gave the Cubs credit.
"They did a good job of not chasing below the zone," he said. "They just had a good approach today."
A day after a game was postponed because of rain and a temperature just above freezing, it was 47 when the game began.
Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch in the first, stole second, advanced to third on catcher Willson Contreras's throwing error and scored on Lester's wild pitch to Marcell Ozuna.
Baez was moved up to second in the batting order by Maddon, and Baez tripled in a bottom half of the first that included RBI singles by Bryant and Schwarber. The Cubs opened a 6-1 lead in the second when Albert Almora Jr., Rizzo and Schwarber had RBI singles, and Bryant hit a sacrifice fly.
Heyward's fifth-inning home run against Matt Bowman made it 8-1.
Eddie Butler walked Paul DeJong with the bases-loaded in a four-run seventh, and Steve Cishek forced in a run when he hit pinch-hitter Kolten Wong with a pitch. Dexter Fowler hit into a run-scoring forceout, and another run scored when Baez's throw from second to first trying for a double play was wide for an error.
The Cardinals recalled OF Tyler O'Neill from Class AAA Memphis and optioned RHP John Brebbia to the Pacific Coast League team. O'Neill, 22, made his major league debut when he pinch hit for Weaver in the fifth and struck out swinging.
In 12 games with Memphis, the muscular Canadian batted .388 with 6 home runs, 18 RBI and an .837 slugging percentage. By not recalling O'Neill before Wednesday, the Cardinals delayed his eligibility for free agency by a year, until after the 2025 season.
He is the son of Terry O'Neill, named Mr. Canada -- a title given to the nation's best body builder -- in 1975.
PHILLIES 7, PIRATES 0 Jake Arrieta struck out 10 and tossing one-hit ball over seven innings to lead Philadelphia to a victory over visiting Pittsburgh.
BRAVES 12, METS 4 Preston Tucker drove in a career-high five runs, Matt Wisler allowed two hits in seven innings after being called up from the minors, and host Atlanta beat Matt Harvey and New York. Wisler, a right-hander, allowed one run on two hits with no walks.
BREWERS 12, MARLINS 3 Lorenzo Cain homered, doubled twice and scored four times, and pinch-hitter Ryan Braun launched a three-run home run that gave him 1,000 RBI and powered Milwaukee to a victory over visiting Miami.
DIAMONDBACKS 3, GIANTS 1 Zack Greinke pitched seven dominant innings and host Arizona won its sixth consecutive series with a victory over San Francisco. Greinke (2-1) gave up a solo home run to Brandon Belt but not much else.
TIGERS 13, ORIOLES 8 Leonys Martin hit his first big league grand slam, Jeimer Candelario had four hits and three RBI, and host Detroit beat Baltimore.
ASTROS 9, MARINERS 2 Charlie Morton pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Jose Altuve hit a three-run double and visiting Houston beat Seattle. Morton allowed singles to Robinson Cano, Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz, but otherwise baffled Seattle’s lineup.
YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 3 Aaron Judge hit his fifth home run, David Robertson pitched out of an eighth-inning jam and host New York overcame some shaky defense to beat Toronto.
Sports on 04/20/2018
Print Headline: Lester dominates while Cubs hold hitting clinic