Lester pitches 8 shutout innings to lead Cubs over Phillies
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jon Lester dominated for eight innings, and the Chicago Cubs bullpen was just good enough in the ninth for yet another victory.
Lester pitched eight scoreless innings, Jason Heyward hit a two-run homer and the Cubs held off the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4 on Monday night.
Lester (7-3) improved to 6-0 in eight career starts against the Phillies while lowering his ERA against them to 1.46. He struck out nine, walked none and allowed four hits.
''He's really on top of his game right now,'' Maddon said.
Philadelphia scored all of its runs in the ninth after Maddon elected not to send Lester out for the last inning. Lester threw 95 pitches and had to wait out a lengthy top of the ninth.
''It was really an easy decision once we got the sixth run,'' Maddon said. ''It just didn't play out right. We had to fasten our seatbelts in the ninth.''
Lester said he didn't lobby hard to stay in the game.
''I told Joe I was fine, but I also told him that he's the manager,'' Lester said. ''I've tried before with him, and I think I've won maybe one in the last two years. When he shakes my hand, I know it's one of those deals where it's pretty much done, so there's no real point in arguing.''
Justin Grimm gave up a pair of singles and Freddy Galvis' three-run homer without recording an out. Closer Hector Rondon relieved Grimm and allowed Tommy Joseph's solo shot to center. Rondon then got two quick outs before Odubel Herrera's pinch-hit single brought the tying run to the plate with two outs. Rondon got Ryan Howard to ground out to earn his 11th save in as many chances.
''That ninth inning was a lot of fun,'' Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. ''It was good to see the guys fight back.''
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler each had three hits for the Cubs, who won their 11th in 13 games while extending their best start since 1900 to a major league-leading 40-16. Chicago moved 10 games in front of second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central. Bryant had a pair of doubles and an RBI and Rizzo drove in two runs.
''I feel like anybody can do it from any spot,'' Heyward said of the Cubs offense. ''I feel like there's no true break.''
The Cubs have dominated the Phillies this season, winning all four meetings while outscoring Philadelphia 23-9.
Philadelphia has lost nine of 11 overall.
Adam Morgan (1-5) gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings to lose his fifth straight start. The Philadelphia left-hander has an 8.42 ERA over that stretch, but he pitched better against the Cubs than he has in his four prior outings.
''You could see the determination in his eyes,'' Mackanin said. ''He wanted to have a good outing. He knows he has to pitch better and he did today, which was good to see. But you have to make good pitches every inning.''
Heyward's third homer of the season, a shot to right in the fourth, padded the lead to 3-0.
The Phillies had their best chance to score off Lester in the second when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Lester got Jimmy Paredes to fly out to left field. The Cubs left-hander was dominant from that point, retiring 13 straight batters before Joseph's seventh-inning single.
Maddon gave Ben Zobrist the day off. Zobrist leads the majors in on-base percentage (.438) but has gone 0 for 13 in his last five games.
CASE OF THE MONDAYS
The Phillies dropped to 0-8 on Mondays this season. The Phillies' last win on a Monday came last July 20, making it 13 straight Mondays with a defeat.
Cubs: Jorge Soler left after singling to left field in the third inning. Soler injured his left hamstring while running the bases. He'll have an MRI on Tuesday, Maddon said. ... Fowler was hit on the right pinky finger by Andrew Bailey in the eighth inning but remained in the game.
Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 2.84) opposes Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-8, 3.93) in the second contest of the three-game set Tuesday night.