Spring Training Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 4, Brewers 5
WP – Austin Ross (2-0) LP – Clayton Richard (1-1) Save – Jim Miller (1)
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead. Minor Leaguer Kelly Dugan homered in the eighth. Jon Lester pitched five scoreless innings and the bullpen kept the shutout intact until the ninth. Clayton Richard gave up five runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost the spring game on Friday afternoon to the Brewers.
The Cubs had a good day until the ninth inning. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back-to-back doubles in the sixth. The Cubs took a 4-0 lead into the ninth.
Clayton Richard struggled for the first time this spring. Richard had command issues, elevated too many pitches that resulted in weak contact. The only ball the Brewers squared up in the ninth was the two-run opposite field double by Kirk Nieuwenhuis that ended up being the game winner.
All the doubles belonged to the Cubs until the ninth inning. The Cubs had 10 hits on Friday afternoon, and five went for two bases. The Cubs could not push across any runs the first five innings.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the sixth inning … and it all started with a pinch-hit walk from Tommy La Stella in his first Cactus League action since March 7.
Tommy La Stella (0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) walked to start the sixth against Blaine Boyer. Ben Zobrist (2-for-3 with a double) followed with a single and he put runners on first and second with no outs. Jason Heyward (0-for-3) lined out to right.
Kris Bryant (1-for-3 with a double and a RBI) smoked a double into left center. La Stella scored, 1-0 Cubs. Matt Szczur ran for Zobrist and held at third.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double and two RBI) ripped a double into right center. Szczur and Bryant scored … 3-0 Cubs.
Kyle Schwarber (1-for-3 with a double) followed with the third straight double. Rizzo had to hold at third and could not score. The Brewers left fielder misplayed a ball that should have been caught. Jorge Soler (0-for-3) grounded out to third and David Ross (1-for-3) lined out to center to end the inning.
Minor leaguer Kelly Dugan (1-for-1 with a home run) hit a booming homer over the center field wall in the eighth for the Cubs’ fourth run.
Jon Lester had his best outing of the spring, even though he said afterwards he was not happy with the way he pitched. Lester threw strikes, kept the ball down and worked around errors by Kris Bryant and Munenori Kawasaki during the five scoreless innings. Lester was not challenged on the bases. The Brewers attempted one stolen base and David Ross threw him out.
Lester retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the second, pitched a 1-2-3 third inning on eight pitches and faced the minimum on nine pitches in the fourth. Lester had a little difficulty getting through the fifth. Lester made 20 pitches in the inning. Ramon Flores tripled into the right field corner with one out. An excellent throw from Jorge Soler on a fly out to right by Yadiel Rivera kept Flores from scoring.
Jon Lester gave up two hits with a walk and two strikeouts on 67 pitches in five innings. Lester completed a start without any issues or creating unnecessary headlines.
Pedro Strop was lights out in the sixth, a quick 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout.
Hector Rondon followed Strop with a very sharp seventh inning. Rondon touched 97 mph on the gun and retired all three batters he faced with a strikeout.
Justin Grimm issued a two-out walk to Kirk Nieuwenhuis but that was all in the eighth. Grimm struck out two of the four batters in the eighth.
Clayton Richard struggled with his command in the ninth. Richard elevated too many pitches on Friday afternoon. Richard gave up five runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout. The Brewers made weak contact against Richard with four of the five hits. Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ two-run double that gave the Brewers the lead was the only ball squared up during the long ninth inning.
With Friday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 8-15-1 in the Cactus League.
The Cubs host the Giants on Saturday afternoon (3:05pm CDT). John Lackey is scheduled to face Jeff Samardzija.