Lester pitches 4-hitter as Cubs beat Cueto, Giants 4-1

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant (17) celebrates with Anthony Rizzo, after the pair scored on Rizzo's two-run home run off San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) Once Jon Lester waited out the rain, it was mostly smooth sailing for the rest of the night.

Not so much for Johnny Cueto.

Lester pitched a four-hitter for Chicago’s first complete game of the season, and the Cubs beat Cueto and the San Francisco Giants 4-1 on Tuesday in a rematch of last year’s playoff opener.

”Jon Lester, that’s classic stuff,” manager Joe Maddon said. ”He just kept getting better.”

Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer as Chicago improved to 5-2 on its nine-game home stand. Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward also connected, helping the Cubs bounce back from their 6-4 loss to the Giants on Monday night.

Lester and Cueto hooked up in a memorable pitchers’ duel in Game 1 of the NL Division Series last October, with Chicago winning 1-0 on Javier Baez’s eighth-inning homer. The Cubs eliminated the Giants in four games and went on to their first World Series title in 108 years.

Lester (3-2) was sharp once again in the low-profile reunion. Cueto (4-4) was just OK, striking out eight in six innings, but surrendering Chicago’s three homers.

”Long ball got him tonight,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ”It’s a little uncommon for Johnny to make mistakes like that but still. You’d like to think he could make a mistake and get away with it but he didn’t tonight.”

Cueto said he was bothered by blisters on his middle and index fingers. But the veteran right-hander said he wanted to take his next turn in the rotation.

”To skip a start I really have to not throw anymore,” he said through an interpreter.

Brandon Crawford doubled in Buster Posey in the fifth, and that was it for the Giants. Lester retired the side in order in the ninth, getting Christian Arroyo to foul out to left on his 99th pitch for the final out.

”It’s a hard thing to do now, so yeah, I mean there’s always that gratification to go out there and finish it and walk off and shake everybody’s hand as they come off the field,” Lester said.

San Francisco dropped to 3-2 on its seven-game trip to St. Louis and Chicago. It had won eight of 10 overall.

The start of the game was delayed 65 minutes by rain. After the first four batters struck out, Schwarber drove a 3-2 pitch from Cueto over the bleachers in right and onto Sheffield Avenue for his seventh homer.

”You know when you get jammed and you know when you hit off the end and you know when you hit barrel, because you don’t feel it as much,” Schwarber said. ”So it was a good feeling today.”

Heyward added another solo shot into the basket in right in the second, and Rizzo’s ninth homer made it 4-0 in the fourth.

It was more than enough for Lester, who struck out 10 and walked none in his 15th career complete game. His previous longest outing of the season was seven innings, on April 16 against Pittsburgh and May 7 against the New York Yankees.


The Cubs recalled RHP Felix Pena from Triple-A Iowa and optioned LHP Zac Rosscup to their top farm club. The 27-year-old Pena has no record and a 3.60 ERA in two appearances with the major league team this year.


Giants: CF Denard Span (sprained left thumb) was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight day. He got jammed on a pitch during Sunday’s 8-3 loss at St. Louis. ”All stuff in the trainer room so I didn’t touch a bat today,” Span said. ”The swelling went down significantly. There’s still some there but only thing to do really is to come in tomorrow and test it out.”

Cubs: LHP Brett Anderson, who is on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain, threw a bullpen session. He said everything felt normal.


Giants LHP Matt Moore (2-4, 5.37 ERA) and Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (3-2, 3.35 ERA) meet in the third game of the four-game set on Wednesday night. Hendricks is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his last five outings after a rough start to the season. Moore pitched six effective innings in a no-decision on Friday at St. Louis, allowing two runs and five hits.

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap