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Cubs get blanked 2-0 by Diamondbacks on combined 2-hitter in Cactus League play

Almora

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Six Diamondbacks pitchers, led by starter Taijuan Walker, held the Cubs to a double by Efren Navarro and single by Chris Gimenez in a 2-0 victory over the Cubs in a spring game Sunday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.

Walker started and pitched three innings, striking out four.

Strike force

Opening day starter Jon Lester threw 36 of his 53 pitches for strikes in his second start of the spring, pitching four batters deep into the third and striking out three.

He walked two – All-Star sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb back-to-back in the first, using 16 combined pitches, with two out.

“All we’re trying to do now is build up pitches,” said Lester. “I accomplished that. I was able to get out of some jams, had a fairly quick second. The fastball was good, down, had good angle. So it’s just another building block.”

Lester’s throwing error on a ball hit to the mound leading off the third likely prevented him from completing three innings. He gave up a single to the next batter and then came back and struck out Goldschmidt and Lamb –his final two batters.

Strike force II

Both Diamondbacks runs were scored on solo homers, one by regular shortstop Nick Ahmed, off Lester with two out in the second; the other, by Rey Fuentes – a one-time Red Sox prospect, who was traded, along with Anthony Rizzo, to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2010.

Fuentes’ homer was off Michael Roth in the seventh.

Slow start for leadoff candidates

Center fielder Albert Almora Jr., one of the three leadoff hitters used by manager Joe Maddon so far this spring, batted sixth on Sunday, going 0-for-3 to extend his hitless streak to open the spring to 13 at-bats.

Right fielder Jason Heyward, who batted leadoff for the second time in three days, lined to third, popped to third and struck out in three trips to the plate. He’s 1-for-11 with two walks this spring.

Grimm spring debut

Reliever Justin Grimm made his first appearance of the spring as the projected big-league relieves start working into games this week.

He retired the first two batters he faced, walked the next two, gave up a double steal, then retired leadoff man David Peralta on a liner to short – giving him a perfect ERA so far this spring.

On deck: Cubs at Rockies, Scottsdale, Ariz., Kyle Hendricks vs. Tyler Anderson, 2:10 p.m. Monday, cubs.com audio.