Cubs game notes: Fowler gets on, Soler goes deep, pen steps up

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Jorge Soler is congratulated by Jason Heyward after his fifth-inning home run.

MESA, Ariz. — Starter Jon Lester pitched around enough traffic and a few of his own fielding issues to complete five productive innings to earn the win in the Cubs’ 5-2 Cactus League victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

He’s down with OBP

Cubs leadoff man Dexter Fowler reached base Sunday on, in order, a walk, a triple into the right field corner and a pitch that hit him. He later grounded a 3-2 to pitch to first in his final at-bat.

That gave him a 14-plate-appearance stretch that included a single, two triples, four walks and an HBP (.571 on-base percentage).

What a relief

Setup ace Pedro Strop, making just his second appearance of the spring (because of workload restrictions) pitched a quick 1-2-3 sixth, and closer Hector Rondon – who got battered in his two most recent outings – added a 1-2-3 seventh.

Rondon seemed especially pleased, smiling large and high-fiving as many teammates as he could find upon reaching the dugout.

Soler power

Outfielder Jorge Soler’s two-run homer well out to left field in the fifth was his third homer of the spring. He has only four hits all spring, and the other is a double.

Soler’s Cactus League resume this year also includes four walks and 10 strikeouts in 33 plate appearances.

Kid energy

:Shortstop Addison Russell, the youngest player on the projected opening day roster, and two other 2015 rookies (Kris Bryant, Soler) were the only Cubs to return from Saturday’s late-night starting lineup to start Sunday.

All reached base. Russell went singled in three at-bats (.276 this spring).

Crowd sourcing

The Cubs broke their own all-time spring training attendance record for the second time this spring (15,523).

On deck

The Cubs take their lone day off from the Cactus League schedule Monday, althoughJohn Lackey makes his scheduled start Monday on the minor-league side of camp.

The Cubs resume play Tuesday at Reds, Goodyear, Ariz., 3:05 p.m., mlb.com audio, Jason Hammel vs. Alfredo Simon.


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