Zobrist, Rizzo stand out in Cubs 5-4 loss to Brewers
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Ben Zobrist had two hits and Anthony Rizzo had two RBIs, but the Chicago Cubs lost 5-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
Zobrist's single in the sixth came during a three-run rally that was topped off by Rizzo's two-run double off reliever Blaine Boyer.
Cubs starter John Lester went five innings, allowing two hits, walking one and striking out two.
''I think it looked a lot better than it was for me,'' the left-hander said. ''It definitely wasn't as good as far as stuff and location. I kind of masked that pretty well. Sometimes you have starts like that especially now. You feel like you are going pretty well and your body lets you know it is spring training.''
The Brewers' Michael Blazek started in place of Jimmy Nelson, who was scratched due to an illness. The hope is he can start a minor league game on Saturday in order to remain on track to start the second game of the regular season.
Blazek went two innings, allowing one hit and striking out one before Chris Capuano replaced him.
''I was happy with Mike Blazek today,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsel said. ''I thought his stuff was really good. Cappy did a really nice job.''
Cubs: Lester wasn't happy with his stuff, but managed to get through a lineup that had a lot of regulars in it.
''It was good to get up and down five times again,'' he said. ''It was good to face a team we are going to have a lot of experience with this year and face some of those guys. It is good to get a grinder like that out of the way.''
Brewers: Blazek threw a concise two innings in the spot start. It was his first start after seven relief appearances. He hasn't been scored on in his last three outings, covering five innings, after a rough start to the spring.
Cubs: Infielder Tommy LaStella (calf) returned to action as a pinch hitter and stayed in the game as the third baseman. He went 0 for 2 with a walk.
Brewers: The Brewers have a slew of players in varying degrees of recovery with most of their statuses still unclear.
Reliever Will Smith developed a swollen right knee after pitching in a minor league game Thursday. Starter Jimmy Nelson was scratched from a start against the Cubs due to illness. Left fielder Ryan Braun remained sidelined by a stiff back and Rule 5 draft pick Zack Jones will have to start the season on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder.
Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta said he isn't worried about the blood blister on his right thumb that limited him to 1/3 of an inning on Thursday.
''It's business as usual today,'' Arrieta said. ''It won't be a problem at all.''
Cubs: Chicago hosts San Francisco as John Lackey (0-1, 5.63) goes for the Cubs, while the Giants haven't announced who was starting.
Brewers: Milwaukee sends Matt Garza (1-0, 3.95 ERA) out in a home game against the Indians.
FINDING HIS NICHE
Capuano fared well, allowing one hit in two innings, as his impressive spring out of the bullpen continues.
''This is the first spring he has been treated as a reliever,'' Counsel said. ''I think he's going to start to find out how to deal with it. He will find a way. That's what he does.''