With a career batting average under .100 Richard Sherman Jersey , Jon Lester might seem to be a pitcher who doesn’t care what he does at the plate.
”It’s important to have good at-bats. I feel like I have done that regardless of the outcome,” he said.
Lester hit a three-run homer that highlighted an eight-run burst in the second inning and wound up with his NL-leading 11th win as the Chicago Cubs held off the Minnesota Twins 11-10 on Sunday.
”I’ve had good at-bats and I haven’t been just a one-pitch out guy. So I have worked some counts and I’ve been able to at least make the pitcher work,” he said. ”That’s all I’m trying to do.”
”If I get hits, I get hits,” he said. ”The home run is awesome, it’s cool, especially at home. It’s always fun to play here with the crowd and to be able to hit the ball into the bleachers. But at the end of the day I know I’m a pitcher and I’m not a hitter.”
Ian Happ also homered for the Cubs, who have scored at least 10 runs in four straight games for the first time since 1930. Chicago swept the three-game series and has won four in a row overall.
Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer and Jake Cave also homered for the Twins.
Minnesota concluded a 1-5 Chicago road trip that began with two losses in three tries to the White Sox, and fell 10 games below .500 for the first time this season.
Lester hit his second career home run, prompting a curtain call from the cheering fans.
Lester went 10 seasons, mostly in Boston with sporadic at-bats, before getting his first major league hit. Now, in his fourth season with the Cubs, Lester has put more of an emphasis into hitting.
”I really didn’t care about hitting there” in Boston, he said. ”I’m worried about David (Ortiz) and (Dustin) Pedroia and all of the other guys driving in runs as opposed to me.”
”Coming over here, it can change the outcome of a game, so it becomes a little more important and you work on it all year. In spring training you’re doing it from part of the second week on,” he said.
Lester (11-2) allowed four runs, two of them earned, and nine hits in five-plus innings.
Mitch Garver hit a two-run homer off Dillon Maples as the Twins scored five times in the eighth. Maples, called up from Triple-A before the game when pitcher Brian Duensing went on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder Garry Gilliam Jersey , also allowed an RBI single to Logan Morrison and a two-run triple to Willians Astudillo.
”Their offense, we just had trouble with it. Lot of big innings, lot of crooked numbers. I think our guys stayed with it. We got some opportunities there and got some big hits to get back in the game. When you get as close as we did late, it makes you think about some of the runs we gave up along the way, so that’s frustrating,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Javier Baez, who doubled twice, Happ and Willson Contreras each had three hits for the Cubs.
Cubs closer Brandon Morrow got one out in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances.
”They got out on us pretty early, but I love the fight of the guys in the dugout. I kind of had glimpses of last year’s team and our fight,” Dozier said.
In the third consecutive sweltering day at Wrigley Field with a gametime temperature at 93 degrees and a heat index at 101, the Cubs jumped all over Lance Lynn (5-7) in the second inning.
Baez doubled home two runs and Anthony Rizzo had an RBI double. Kyle Schwarber met reliever Matt Magill with the Cubs’ third straight double.
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell added an RBI single in the fourth inning and made a highlight grab in the sixth inning before leaving the game with an apparent injury resulting in the catch.
Russell bumped into Baez while making the running catch on Eduardo Escobar’s ball down the left-field line in foul territory. He walked off the field and into the dugout after talking to a team trainer and manager Joe Maddon. Maddon said Russell injured his left middle finger and he doesn’t believe it to be serious.
Twins: LF Eddie Rosario, one of three Twins to leave Saturday’s game due to heat was in the lineup on Sunday. Teammates Bobby Wilson and Max Kepler were available, as was infielder Ehire Adrianza, who received intravenous fluids after finishing the game.
”We just encouraged everyone last night to rest and hydrate the best they could again this morning to get themselves in positions to get through the game,” Molitor said. ”You just try to be aware of it. There’s not much you can do: You’ve got to play people and you’ve got to get through the game.” … SS Jorge Polanco’s 80-game performance-enhancing drug suspension ends Monday and Molitor said he expects him to rejoin the club in Milwaukee after a stint with Triple-A Rochester.
Cubs: OF Albert Almora didn’t start, but he came in the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement after leaving Saturday’s game due to dehydration. Almora suffered cramps in his legs and was removed in the fifth inning. Almora had a nice sliding catch in center to rob Kepler in the ninth.
Twins: Visit Milwaukee on Monday as they continue their interleague schedule. Kyle Gibson (2-6) is the scheduled starter. He had another rough outing against the White Sox in his last start on June 27. He allowed five runs on a season-high 11 hits.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-8) will try to bounce back from his shortest outing of season on Tuesday against the Tigers. Hendricks allowed six runs
The Pittsburgh Pirates will be trying to win three games in a row after a rough month and the Cincinnati Reds will be looking to avoid the start of a skid when the teams play the middle game of a series Saturday at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh (34-35) won the series opener 3-2, posting back-to-back wins for the first time since winning three straight May 15-17 to reach a season-best nine games above .500.
In the interim before Friday’s win, the Pirates were 6-18 and entered the weekend as close to the last-place Reds (eight games) as they were to first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central.
“It’s a long season. There’s going to be times where stuff like that happens,” Pittsburgh third baseman Colin Moran said of the poor stretch. “It’s more important that we bounce back like we did.”
Cincinnati (23-44) had won three in a row before Friday.
Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova (3-5, 4.68 ERA) is scheduled to face Reds right-hander Luis Castillo (4-7, 5.79) on Saturday.
Nova on Sunday returned from the disabled list (sprained right ring finger) without having made any rehab starts. No matter. He struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings Marquise Goodwin Jersey , giving up one run and four hits in a 7-1 win over the Cubs in Chicago.
It showed the Pirates that the veteran can still be highly effective. It showed Nova that it is better to be forthcoming about nagging injuries and be willing to step away and heal.
“Just the way that the ball was coming out of my hand, I could tell the difference right away,” Nova said. “To be able to pitch a game like (that) … I think that’s kind of a lesson for you. Don’t force it.”
He had not had any sort of organized outing since his last appearance before May 24 when he went on the DL.
“He was ready to pitch,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “At the end of the day, he showed you he was ready to pitch.”
Nova also impressed the opposition.
“He was hitting the corners all day, keeping the ball down,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told MLB.com. “It’s tough to do anything when he’s on like that.”
Nova is 3-7 with a 4.67 ERA in 10 career starts against Cincinnati.
Castillo’s last start was much more mixed than Nova’s.
In a 6-4 loss to St. Louis, Castillo had a career-high 10 strikeouts but also a career-high two homers allowed as Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna smacked back-to-back dingers in the first inning after Castillo struck out the first two hitters on six pitches. He also gave up a first-pitch, bases-loaded triple to Yadier Molina in the third.
“You just have to be strong mentally, more than physically,” Castillo said through an interpreter.
He gave up five runs and four hits in six innings that game. Despite the rocky start and the loss, Castillo, 25, managed an in-game turnaround, allowing just one batter to reach base in his final three innings.
“You saw the talent of Castillo,” Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman said. “The last three innings that he threw were outstanding, and it’s exciting to know that this guy has got a chance to be around here for a very long time. He’s just going to get better and better once he gets past these growing pains.”
Castillo is 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA in four career starts against Pittsburgh, with 22 strikeouts in 22 innings.
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