Soler powers Cubs to 6-1 win over Brewers
CHICAGO (AP) Jorge Soler has made the Chicago Cubs' lineup deeper by going deep.
Soler, who hit a three-run home run to lead Chicago to a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, has hit seven home runs in seven starts since coming off the disabled list in early August. He's hitting .379 in 10 games over that stretch.
''When Jorge is in there it makes a deep, long lineup,'' said Cubs catcher David Ross, who hit a solo home run as the Cubs won their third straight and 17th in 20 games.
''When he was out ... the lineup was shortened, you know, once you get past a certain guy, it's a little easier to navigate the lineup,'' Ross said.
Hitting in the sixth spot, Soler sent Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson's 2-2 pitch far over the wall in left-center field, depositing it just under the videoboard atop the stands.
The homer capped a five-run first inning after RBI singles by Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell.
That made for an easy night for Cubs starter Jon Lester (13-4), who got his fourth straight win, giving up one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven. He hasn't lost since July 3.
''You get five runs after the bottom of the first, it kind of relaxes you, you don't have to grind as much,'' Lester said.
Lester and the rest of the Cubs starting pitchers have been magnificent, going 11-0 in August, with Chicago's only two losses being hung on relievers. But Lester credited the offense for the starters' success.
''It makes our lives as pitchers a lot easier when they're consistent, and doing what they've been doing pretty much the whole year for us,'' Lester said. ''We just kind of go about our business after what they do.''
Nelson (6-13) walked leadoff batter Dexter Fowler then hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to begin the first. Then came Soler's home run.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Soler has worked on staying patient since coming back from the DL.
''He's really staying in the zone,'' Maddon said.
Carl Edwards Jr. and Travis Wood combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cubs.
Nelson is 1-10 over his last 14 starts.
Milwaukee rarely threatened Lester. The Brewers got a run in the sixth when Keon Broxton singled, then stole two bases before scoring on a groundout by Orlando Arcia. Milwaukee loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the second inning, but Lester got Nelson to ground into an inning-ending forceout.
The loss was the fifth in six games for the Brewers.
''We're having a tough go of it putting together offense,'' Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. ''But there's no breaks, no quit. We just keep going at it.''
LA STELLA RETURNS
Cubs INF Tommy La Stella will report to Double-A Tennessee, and Maddon said he hopes La Stella will be back with the big league team by early September. La Stella was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 29, but refused to report, and the Cubs placed him on the temporary inactive list on Aug. 9. La Stella reportedly said he was contemplating retirement. ''He's reported to Double-A, and moving on up to Triple-A, and he'll be back here probably by the first of September,'' Maddon said before the game. La Stella, 27, was hitting .295 in 51 games for the Cubs this season before the demotion.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun is day-to-day after crashing into a wall at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Braun injured his left knee and ankle and was out of the lineup Wednesday. Braun and Counsell said he might be ready to play Thursday in Chicago and is expected to play over the weekend in Seattle. ... RHP Chase Anderson, who was hit in the left quadriceps by Bryant's comebacker Tuesday, said he felt much better and would play light catch and evaluate from there. Counsell said Anderson might be well enough to start in the Brewers' three-game series in Seattle.
Cubs: OF Chris Coghlan was placed on the 15-day DL on Wednesday with a right rib contusion. ... RHP Joe Smith was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. The sidearm reliever said he didn't feel right during his ninth-inning appearance on Tuesday, when he walked two of the three hitters he faced, and that it might be a recurrence of an injury from May.
The Cubs send RHP Jake Arrieta (14-5, 2.55) to the mound for the series finale on Thursday. RHP Zach Davies (9-5, 3.80) will pitch for the Brewers.