Lester helps Cubs beat Rockies 3-2 for fifth straight win
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — Javier Baez committed a costly error, and Kris Bryant booted a ball in the sixth inning. The Chicago Cubs bounced into a pair of double plays and managed just six hits.
It was still good enough. The pitching made it work — again.
Jon Lester grinded his way into the sixth inning, continuing an impressive stretch for Chicago’s rotation and helping the Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Monday night for their season-high fifth straight victory.
“I’ve just always felt like if we keep our team in it long enough, our guys are going to strike,” Lester said, “and they did that tonight.”
Lester allowed two runs and five hits, struck out five and walked three. Luke Farrell (1-0) worked 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief for his first career win, and Steve Cishek got two outs for his first save of the season.
The Rockies put runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth before Cishek struck out Nolan Arenado.
“We had the right guy up there at the end to win the game and their guy threw a nice breaking ball to end it,” Colorado manager Bud Black said.
Chicago became the first major league team to win five straight games with three runs or fewer in each one since Milwaukee in August 2011. It’s the first such streak in franchise history.
The reason is simple: pitching, and lots of it. Lester made it 33 2/3 straight innings for Chicago’s starters without giving up an earned run, the longest streak for the team since at least 1974. It’s the longest stretch in the majors since Washington’s rotation had a streak of 47 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run in June 2015.
The Cubs have permitted just four runs and 21 hits during their last five games.
“It’s been a fun last five games to be a part of,” Lester said.
Colorado wasted a solid start by Kyle Freeland (1-4) in its third straight loss. The left-hander pitched seven innings of three-run ball, allowing six hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
The Rockies jumped in front with two in the fifth, taking advantage of an ugly error by Baez. With one out and a runner on first, the second baseman dropped catcher Willson Contreras’ throw to first on Freeland’s sacrifice.
After Ian Desmond flied out, Charlie Blackmon blooped an RBI single into center and Arenado hit a tiebreaking double. But the Rockies missed out on a chance for more when Chris Iannetta struck out looking with the bases loaded.
“It was a really tough swing to pull the trigger on,” Iannetta said. “Definitely not happy with that.”
The Cubs responded with Albert Almora Jr.’s RBI single in the bottom half, then went ahead to stay in the sixth.
Kris Bryant led off with a triple high off the wall in left for his first hit since he was beaned by Colorado on April 22. Bryant then scampered home when Anthony Rizzo followed with a grounder to second.
Lester was pulled with two outs and runners on first and second, but Farrell got Desmond to bounce into a fielder’s choice. Farrell also worked the seventh in the 13th major league game for the son of former Red Sox manager John Farrell.
The right-hander stored away a couple of game balls in his locker after his first win, and quickly got in touch with his dad.
“We’ve been going back and forth. He was pumped,” said Luke Farrell, who got his first victory at Wrigley Field since he pitched a three-hit shutout for Northwestern University against Michigan on April 20, 2013. “Mom, too. Family, brothers, everybody. It’s something we can all share.”
Addison Russell had an RBI single in the second for Chicago, which has won nine of 11 overall. The Cubs moved a season-high six games over .500 and picked up their 16th win before May 1 for only the fourth time in franchise history.
Colorado’s two runs in the fifth snapped a scoreless streak of 16 innings. Rookie outfielder Noel Cuevas had three hits after beginning the night with just two in his career.
Rockies: 2B DJ LeMahieu was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain and OF Carlos Gonzalez was activated from the DL. LeMahieu got hurt when he doubled in the third inning of Friday night’s 1-0 victory at Miami. “It is getting better, it’s just not good enough to be a productive player,” LeMahieu said.
Rockies right-hander Jon Gray and Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks square off Tuesday night. Gray (2-4, 5.79 ERA) stopped a personal three-game slide when he struck out 11 while pitching six scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory against San Diego on Wednesday. Hendricks (2-1, 3.10) is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts, including a win at Colorado on April 20.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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