Reds outpace Cubs 5-2 in Cingrani’s spring debut

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Jon Lester pitched two scoreless innings Friday in his spring debut with the Chicago Cubs, who lost 5-2 to the Cincinnati Reds.

Lester got Billy Hamilton to fly out to right leading off the game, and then struck out Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce — all swinging. The left-hander broke Chris Dominguez’s bat on a one-out single in the second, and Kristopher Negron followed with a double-play grounder.

"It was all right," Lester said. "Tempo was good, I felt good about that. Just ball was up a little bit for me. I threw a couple good cutters, but like I said, first one, got some jitters, amped up and all that stuff, so ball’s going to be up a little bit. But got some stuff done in the bullpen as far as fixing that. Like I said, now it’s time to build off that."

Lester was one of the top free agents in the offseason, and opted for a $155 million, six-year contract with Chicago. He went 16-11 with a career-low 2.46 ERA in 32 starts with Boston and Oakland last season.

The Cubs finished with a losing record in each of the last five years, but they begin this season with high expectations following an active winter — highlighted by the big deal with Lester.

"If you’re not expecting yourself to win, then why are you playing the game?" Lester said. "I don’t show up to lose. That’s definitely not something I enjoy."

Brennan Boesch hit a three-run homer in Cincinnati’s five-run seventh in front of a Cactus League-record crowd of 15,331. Boesch is in camp on a minor league deal and is trying to win a spot as a reserve outfielder.

Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani worked out of a pair of jams while pitching two scoreless innings. He allowed two hits, struck out two and walked one.

Cingrani, 25, was sidelined by a sore shoulder for much of last season. He finished with a 2-8 record and a 4.55 ERA in 13 games, 11 starts. The Reds traded away Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon in December, giving Cingrani a prime opportunity to make the rotation.

TRAINER’S ROOM

1B Joey Votto will make his spring debut Saturday against Kansas City. The 2010 NL MVP played in only 62 games last season because of strained muscles above his left knee.

STARTING TIME

Paul Maholm pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Cingrani. Maholm also is competing for a spot in Cincinnati’s rotation.

UP NEXT

RHP Mike Leake gets the ball against the Royals. Leake set career highs for starts (33), innings (214 1-3) and strikeouts (164) in 2014, going 11-13 with a 3.70 ERA.