Game One Hundred Eight – Cubs 7, Athletics 2
WP – Jon Lester (12-4) LP – Dillon Overton (1-3) Save – None
Dexter Fowler started the game with his fifth leadoff homer of the season. Jorge Soler in his first at-bat back from the DL hit a three-run homer in the first inning. Javier Baez doubled in two runs in the third. And Jon Lester turned in a solid seven innings on Friday night as the Cubs beat the A’s in the opener of the three-game series in Oakland.
The Cubs jumped on rookie left-hander Dillon Overton and scored all seven runs in the first three innings. The Cubs ended up with 11 hits on the night and one walk. After Baez’s two-run double in the third, the Cubs went into cruise control behind Jon Lester.
The Cubs scored four runs in the first inning on a pair of home runs.
Dexter Fowler (2-for-5 with a home run) went from 0-2 to 3-2 to home run and set the tone for the night. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with a run scored) reached with a one-out single to center and went to second on two-out single from Addison Russell (2-for-3 with a HBP and a run scored). Rizzo and Russell were on board when Soler stepped in with two down in the first.
Jorge Soler (1-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBI) lined a 1-1 pitch from Overton over the wall in left. The ball got out of the Coliseum in a hurry and the Cubs took a 4-0 lead before Lester had a chance to throw a pitch.
The Cubs put the game away in the third inning.
Ben Zobrist (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) led off the third with a double to left. Russell was hit by a pitch and put two on with no outs. Jorge Soler bounced into a 5-4 fielder’s choice. With runners on the corners and one down, Jason Heyward (1-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI) singled to left. Zobrist scored, 5-0 Cubs. A wild pitch with Baez at the plate allowed Soler and Heyward to move up 90 feet.
Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) pulled a 2-0 pitch to deep left. The ball one-hopped the wall. Soler and Heyward scored easily on Baez’s double. Davis Ross, the only player in the Cubs’ lineup Friday that did not have a hit, struck out swinging and Fowler flied out to left to end the inning.
Jon Lester faced the minimum through three innings on just 41 pitches (28 strikes) and kept the A’s off balance until the sixth inning. Lester took a one-hit shutout into the sixth and faced 15 batters in five innings on 69 pitches, 46 strikes. Lester was sharp.
The A’s squared up Lester in the sixth and put a couple of quick runs on the board. Lester labored through a 23-pitch inning. Brett Eibner led off the sixth with a solo homer. Bruce Maxwell doubled with one out and scored on a single from Marcus Semien. Lester found his command after giving up a single to Jake Smolinski that put runners on the corners with one out. Danny Valencia was called out on strikes and then ejected after arguing balls and strikes. Lester retired former Brewers’ outfielder, Khris Davis on a grounder back to the mound.
Jon Lester gave up a single in the seventh to Ryon Healy, but that was all, and he turned the game over to the bullpen after the seventh inning.
Lester allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings. Lester did not issue a walk and struck out eight on 107 pitches, 71 for strikes.
Carl Edwards Jr. retired all three batters he faced in the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Joe Smith issued a two-out walk in the ninth to Billy Butler, but that was all. Smith was very good in the ninth inning.
The Cubs defense played a big role once again. Jason Heyward made an excellent diving catch in the first inning. David Ross erased Khris Davis, with help from an excellent tag by Ben Zobrist, trying to swipe second base in the second inning with his team down by four runs.
Javier Baez turned in another incredible play in the eighth inning. Baez made a diving stop in the hole on a ball ticketed for left field. Baez threw out Marcus Semien at first base from his knees.
The Cubs took care of business against a struggling team Friday night.
With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 67-41 on the season.
Jake Arrieta takes on Sonny Gray on Saturday afternoon (3:05pm CDT) in game two with the A’s.