Lester goes distance, pitches Cubs past Dodgers 2-1
CHICAGO (AP) Jon Lester was surprised when manager Joe Maddon let him bat in the ninth inning. After the pitcher struck out swinging, the rest of the night went according to plan.
Lester tossed a four-hitter for his first complete game of the season, helping the Chicago Cubs edge the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Wednesday despite another quiet performance at the plate.
"I really think that might have been the best I've seen Jonny since he's been here," Maddon said.
The Cubs finished with just three hits against Mike Bolsinger and two relievers after they managed only one in Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to Los Angeles. But one of Chicago's hits was a long, two-run homer by Kris Bryant in the third inning, and Lester (6-3) took over from there.
The left-hander struck out 10 and walked none in his second straight win, settling down quite nicely after Kike Hernandez's leadoff homer on his second pitch. He retired his last 15 batters and threw 113 pitches in his 13th career complete game.
"To dominate the way he did, it's probably a lot more about him than it is about us," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said.
With two relievers standing on the mound in the bullpen, Lester retired Justin Turner and Corey Seager on grounders to shortstop before Howie Kendrick struck out swinging for the final out. It was Lester's first complete game since a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh on Sept. 15.
"Just trying to pick up my load as far as my spot in the rotation and keep this train moving with these four other guys that are throwing the heck out of the ball right now," said Lester, who signed a free-agent deal with Chicago in December 2014. "That's the biggest thing, is just keep this line moving for the next guy."
Bolsinger (1-2) fanned six in five innings. Pedro Baez followed with two hitless innings for Los Angeles, and Casey Fien allowed Jason Heyward's two-out single in the eighth before whiffing Bryant for the last out of the inning.
One mistake in the third was enough to drop the Dodgers to 3-3 on their seven-game trip.
Dexter Fowler reached on a leadoff walk and Heyward lined out to right before Bryant drove a 1-0 pitch to the bushes in center for his team-best 12th homer, snapping a tie with Anthony Rizzo.
"I kind of lollipoped a curveball in there thinking I could get it by," Bolsinger said. "Obviously, him being the great hitter that he is, he took care of it pretty well."
The major league-leading Cubs (36-15) won for the seventh time in eight games and improved to 5-1 on their 10-game homestand.
Julio Urias will make his second start for Los Angeles in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday, giving Kenta Maeda an extra day of rest. The 19-year-old Urias, one of baseball's top prospects, made his major league debut Friday at the New York Mets and allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Maeda is being treated for swelling in his right hand after it was hit by a line drive in his most recent outing, but thinks he should be ready to start Friday against Atlanta.
"My hand feels good," Maeda said through a translator. "It was a decision that the coaches made, to give me one more day."
Dodgers: OF Yasiel Puig (left hamstring) was held out of the lineup for a second straight day and flied out as a pinch hitter in the eighth. ... LHP Alex Wood got an MRI that showed an elbow impingement requiring approximately four weeks of rest. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.
Cubs: Maddon said closer Hector Rondon was unavailable because his back tightened up right before the game. "I don't know anything about tomorrow yet," Maddon said. ... RHP Jason Hammel, who left his previous start with right hamstring cramping, threw a side session and remains on track to start Saturday against Arizona. ... C/OF Kyle Schwarber was checked out in Dallas on Tuesday, and general manager Jed Hoyer said the reports were really good. "I think he's progressing really nicely," Hoyer said. Schwarber had reconstructive left knee surgery in April.
RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 2.93 ERA) starts for Chicago on Thursday against Urias (0-0, 10.13 ERA). Hendricks pitched a five-hitter in a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap