Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey works against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski
August 09, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) John Lackey was ornery and fired up, just what the Cubs needed from their veteran right-hander to keep rolling.

Lackey outpitched friend and former teammate Jered Weaver, Kris Bryant hit his 28th home run and Chicago beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 Tuesday night for its eighth straight victory.

Willson Contreras also homered and Ben Zobrist added an RBI double for the major league-leading Cubs, who won their 70th game and moved a season-high 29 over .500.

Kole Calhoun homered on Lackey's third pitch, but the former Angels right-hander later retired 12 straight. Lackey (9-7) allowed three hits over eight innings, and all six of his strikeouts were looking.

''He's not going to be out there smiling all the time and he's going to be upset with umpires and he's going to be upset with his manager,'' said Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, who was with the Angels when Lackey started his career in 2002. ''He's going to be upset with teammates on occasion. But that's just who he is, and when you know that, it's OK. Because you love having him on your team.''

Weaver (8-9) gave up four earned runs and another one that was unearned when he dropped a throw to first base for an error during the Angels' fifth straight loss.

Bryant homered over the left-field bleachers in the fifth, giving Lackey more than enough cushion. Pedro Strop pitched a perfect ninth to finish the three-hitter.

''I thought he had an exceptional slider tonight and a really good changeup,'' Maddon said about Lackey.

The matchup of veteran right-handers was as one-sided as their teams' seasons in the opener of Chicago's 10-game homestand.

The 37-year-old Lackey and 33-year-old Weaver were teammates a decade ago with the Angels. They had split their previous two meetings when Lackey pitched for Boston.

This was the first time they batted against each other.

''It's a little strange when he gets in the box, for sure, because we're good buddies,'' Lackey said.

Calhoun struck first, sending Lackey's 1-0 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his first homer since June 25. Contreras tied it with a shot to left-center in the third.

Weaver had the Cubs off balance early with his 83 mph fastball and 70 mph curve. But Chicago started to pounce the second time through the order, with Anthony Rizzo doubling in a two-run fourth and again in a two-run fifth.

The second hit came after Bryant sent Weaver's slider onto Waveland Avenue.

''It's one of those lineups where you can't really breathe while you're out there. There's no leeway,'' Weaver said. ''I grinded and tried to get some outs and some things didn't go my way towards the end.''

Weaver allowed eight hits in five innings.

''It's still a little weird because I root for him when he's not facing us,'' Lackey said. ''He's a good friend. I really respect the way he's still competing and still getting after it with stuff that's a little less than he used to have. But he's still grinding, still trying to help his club win.''


Angels: C Geovany Soto (knee) was activated off the 15-day disabled list after the game and is expected to start Wednesday. C Carlos Perez was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. . New closer Cam Bedrosian was placed on the 15-day DL with tendinitis in his right middle finger. RHP A.J. Achter was called up from Triple-A. . 1B C.J. Cron (hand) plans to take live batting practice in Arizona this week. . RHP Nick Tropeano will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Cubs: Relief pitcher Hector Rondon (triceps) was unavailable. ''It's not an issue. I feel a little tired,'' Rondon said. . Jorge Soler started in left field for the first time since June 6 following a hamstring injury and three games as the DH last weekend. He went 2 for 4.


The Cubs' Dexter Fowler was ruled out after 3B Yunel Escobar had a foul pop knocked out of his glove by a fan in the fifth. Umpires initially ruled it no play before huddling and changing the call without a replay review.


Cubs OF Jason Heyward made a headfirst, snow-cone grab of pinch-hitter Johnny Giavotella's fly to shallow right in the eighth.


The series concludes Wednesday night with Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (11-5, 3.07 ERA) returning from the bereavement list to face right-hander and former Cubs draft pick Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.23).

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