Lester returns, pitches well, but Cubs fall to Dodgers


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – APRIL 08: Starting pitcher Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the home opening game at Wrigley Field on April 08, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (AP) — Although it wasn’t enough to keep the Cubs rolling, Jon Lester was pleased with his first outing in more than two weeks.

The Los Angeles Dodgers spoiled the veteran left-hander’s return to the rotation by scoring on an error and a sacrifice fly, beating Chicago 2-1 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Lester (1-1), who spent 16 days on the injured list with a left hamstring strain, allowed one run on four hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked none.

“I felt fine, I felt normal,” he said. “It’s just good to be back out there. I was tired of being in the clubhouse and not doing anything.”

Cody Bellinger drove in the Dodgers’ second run with a sacrifice fly off Kyle Ryan in the eighth after Los Angeles loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. It was Bellinger’s 31st RBI of the season, tying Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich for the most in the majors.

Bellinger went 1 for 2, raising his major league-leading batting average to .426.

“I just wanted to elevate the ball,” he said of his sac fly. “That was it. Do whatever I could to elevate the ball. Had a decent pitch to do it on, so I just tried to hit it in there.”

Pedro Baez (2-1) struck out three in 1 1/3 innings for the win. Kenley Jansen allowed Albert Almora Jr.’s homer in the ninth but got the final three outs for his eighth save.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Alex Verdugo led off with a triple to center. With the infield playing in, Chris Taylor hit a routine grounder to shortstop that Javier Báez booted for an error. Verdugo easily scored once the ball scooted away.

In the bottom of the fifth, Kyle Schwarber led off with a double. Ross Stripling then struck out pinch-hitter Mark Zagunis and retired Ben Zobrist on a grounder to first base. He was lifted for Baez, who walked Kris Bryant but got Anthony Rizzo to fly out.

Stripling allowed five hits and struck out six, throwing 76 pitches in his 4 2/3 scoreless innings.


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