CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester pitched 6 2/3 gutsy innings, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 on Sunday night to take a weekend series between the top teams in the NL Central.
Lester (3-1) gave Chicago exactly what it needed a day after it used seven relievers during a 2-1 victory in 15 innings. Taking the mound on a rainy, cold night at Wrigley Field, the ace left-hander allowed an unearned run and nine hits while throwing a season-high 116 pitches.
Bryant had three hits and scored three times, reaching safely for a career-best 22nd straight game and helping the division-leading Cubs close out an 8-2 homestand. Javier Báez collected two more hits, extending his hitting streak to a career high-tying 11 games.
Milwaukee wasted a solid start by Jhoulys Chacín (3-4), who permitted two runs, one earned, and six hits in six innings. The Brewers finished with nine hits, but left nine runners on base.
After Báez’s two-out RBI double gave Chicago a 2-1 lead in the fifth, Milwaukee put runners on the corners with no outs in the sixth. Lester wiggled out of the jam with some help from Báez, who cut down Jesús Aguilar at the plate when the big first baseman tried to score on Hernán Pérez’s one-out grounder to shortstop.
Lester departed with runners at the corners in the seventh, and Brandon Kintzler struck out Aguilar looking to end the inning. Kintzler also worked the eighth — making an impressive grab on Ben Gamel’s inning-ending liner — and Steve Cishek finished for his second save.
Bryant gave Chicago a 4-1 lead when he drove a 3-1 pitch from Adrian Houser deep to left-center with two outs in the seventh. It was Bryant’s seventh homer in his last 15 games and No. 8 on the year.
Bryant also reached on an error in the first and scored on Willson Contreras’ grounder to first. The Brewers tied it at 1 in the fourth when Christian Yelich reached on a three-base error by left fielder Kyle Schwarber and scored on Aguilar’s single.
Schwarber got turned around while going after Yelich’s drive. He also committed an error that led to a run in Lester’s previous start against Miami.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun (sore left hamstring) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day. “He’s improved, but not ready to run around in the outfield basically, is where we’re at,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo was out of the lineup after his back tightened up during Saturday’s marathon victory. The slugger has a history of back issues, and the Cubs are off Monday. “We talked about it,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It seems like it’s the stuff that’s happened before, so we’re just going to try to play it that way.” … 2B Daniel Descalso (sore left ankle) started for the first time since May 4. He had been limited to pinch-hitting duty since he got hurt running the bases against St. Louis.
Brewers: Counsell mentioned RHP Freddy Peralta (2-1, 6.75 ERA) as a possibility when asked about his starting pitcher for Monday night’s game at Philadelphia. But he wanted to see what happened Sunday night before finalizing his plans. RHP Aaron Nola (3-0, 4.57 ERA) starts for the Phillies in the opener of a four-game set.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks starts Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Cincinnati. Hendricks (2-4, 3.19 ERA) has allowed an unearned run in 17 innings over his past two starts. RHP Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.27 ERA) gets the ball for the Reds.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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