MESA. Ariz. — Lefty starter Jon Lester turned in his first scoreless start of the spring, pitching five innings and allowing just two hits and a walk (with two strikeouts) against the division rivals.
He has allowed just one earned run in 10 innings over his last two starts, though he called this one a “grinder” without his best stuff.
Errors third-baseman Kris Bryant leading off the game and shortstop Munenori Kawasaki leading off the fourth, added traffic.
But Lester needed just 67 pitches to get through the outing, including only 17 in the third and fourth combined.
He made no throws to the bases and his only fielding chance was a sharp one-hopper off his glove that caromed to Kawasaki, who threw to first for the out in the fifth.
La Stella sighting
Backup infielder Tommy La Stella, who has been working his way back from a calf injury the last three weeks, came off the bench for his first Cactus League plate appearance since March 6 and drew a walk leading off the sixth.
He later scored on Kris Bryant’s one-out double and then took over defensively at third.
Super utility man Javy Baez, sidelined since trying to play through a sore thumb March 19-20, still is working on reducing the last of the swelling, but Maddon said he expects to load up the young slugger on at-bats the final week of camp.
“We’re not overly concerned,” the manager said.
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber doubled consecutively during the Cubs’ three-run sixth – though Schwarber’s was aided by left fielder Ramon Flores’ one-man polka on the warning track.
Late-inning relievers Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm pitched the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, retiring nine of the 10 they faced (Grimm walked one).
They combined for four strikeouts, Grimm with two.
Clayton Richard, on the other hand, gave up five ninth-inning runs.
Giants at Cubs, Sloan Park, Mesa, Ariz., 3:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM, Jeff Samardzija vs. John Lackey.