Cubs' Lester allows 2 HRs in rough 3rd start; Padres cruise
PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Matt Kemp and Tommy Medica hit towering home runs off Jon Lester on a rough day for the new Chicago Cubs ace in the San Diego Padres' 7-0 victory on Monday.
Lester hadn't allowed a run or walk in two starts and five innings. He was charged with six runs and seven hits before leaving with one out in the fourth. He was scheduled to go four innings.
Lester first started feeling uncomfortable in the bullpen when he said ''everything was flat, ball was up.''
The left-hander issued a leadoff walk in a two-run second that included former Boston teammate Will Middlebrooks' wall double.
Kemp crushed an inside fastball to left an inning later that landed on a tent, his second homer of the spring with his new club.
Lester returned for the fourth despite being at 62 pitches, then gave up three more hits, including Medica's two-run shot to center.
''I'd make a bad pitch and it would take two more for me to make the adjustment,'' Lester said. ''That's got to change quickly.''
Rotation candidate Brandon Morrow threw four scoreless innings for San Diego.
Cubs prospect Kris Bryant barely missed his seventh home run when he doubled off the wall in the fourth. Bryant was the DH after sitting out Sunday because of fatigue in his throwing shoulder.
Cubs: Only 44 of Lester's 70 pitches were strikes. He said it had nothing to do with throwing to catcher Wellington Castillo for the first time.
''Welly came in a couple times in the dugout and apologized for some stuff,'' Lester said. ''I don't know what he was getting at. I was the one chucking the ball and he's not. . I flat out didn't execute pitches.''
The two runs in the second ended an 18-inning scoreless streak by Chicago starters.
Padres: Morrow, signed to a one-year deal after spending five oft-injured seasons in Toronto, allowed three hits and struck out two.
''Good velocity, good little split-change, nice hook, good slider,'' Padres manager Bud Black said. ''Yeah, he pitched very well.''
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said Bryant will DH again Tuesday, but should return to the field by Thursday.
Padres: RHP Casey Kelly woke up Monday without pain, a day after throwing batting practice in another attempt to return from elbow-reconstruction surgery.
elly hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2012. He had a setback in his return last year. A groin injury has kept him out of games this spring.
''I think I've learned some patience through this whole process,'' Kelly said, smiling.
Kelly will throw batting practice again Wednesday.
OF Hunter Renfroe, San Diego's first-round pick in 2013, was in the first group of cuts Monday.
Renfroe hit a home run in a ''B'' game Saturday that landed on the Mariners' side of Peoria Sports Complex. Pitch recognition is among the things Black wants him to work on.
Also sent to minor league camp: INF Taylor Lindsey, C Griff Erickson and RHPs Justin Hancock, Aaron Northcraft and Tayron Guerrero.
The Cubs sent down eight players: RHPs Pierce Johnson, Armando Rivero, Corey Black, Hunter Cervenka and Donn Roach, C Rafael Lopez, infielder Christian Villanueva and injured infielder Logan Watkins.
CALL HIM PEPE
Maddon is the reason Black is nicknamed ''Pepe.'' When they were together on Mike Scioscia's staff, the Angels played a spring game in Hermosillo, Mexico. When giving autographs, Black signed his name from high school Spanish class, ''Pepe Negro.''
''So the legend was born,'' said Maddon, who added Black's number is under ''Pepe Negro'' in his phone.
So what does Black call Maddon? Black said there's ''Jo-Jo'' and ''a couple other things probably not for air.''
NO SHIELDS FOR YOU
Maddon acknowledged the Cubs recruited James Shields before the ex-Kansas City ace signed with the Padres last month.
''To be messing with him right now would be kind of fun,'' said Maddon, who managed Shields in Tampa Bay.
Cubs: RHP Jason Hamel starts Tuesday against Kansas City.
Padres: Shields starts vs. Milwaukee and RHP Odrisamer Despaigne against Oakland in split-squad games Tuesday.