Jon Lester sharp in second start as Cubs beat Mariners 7-3 in Cactus League play
Lester struck out four, walked none and faced the minimum in three innings, thanks to catcher Willson Contreras wiping out two singles by throwing out a pair of would-be base-stealers.
Cubs 7, Mariners 3
MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs took advantage of shaky Mariners pitching to draw eight walks and hit a pair of home runs to snap a three-game Cactus League losing streak and improve to 4-5 this spring.
After a rough first outing, veteran left-hander Jon Lester was in command for three scoreless innings in his second start of the spring. He faced the minimum, thanks to catcher Willson Contreras throwing out two would-be base-stealers to wipe out the two singles Lester allowed. Lester struck out four.
Center of attention
Albert Almora Jr. used his simplified new swing to homer on the first pitch of the fourth inning to account for the Cubs’ first run. Almora, who is battling Ian Happ for the center-field job, is 7-for-14 with two homers and two walks this spring after his 1-for-3 day.
Hard-throwing prospect Manuel Rodriguez was forced to leave the game in the sixth inning after suffering an arm injury on a pitch to his third batter. The Cubs said he experienced ‘‘right biceps discomfort” and is to be examined again Monday. The right-hander struck out two in a scoreless debut inning this spring.
Former Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. worked a scoreless sixth inning for the Mariners, pitching around a leadoff walk by getting a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play. And former Cubs farmhand Dan Vogelbach, a second-round draft pick in 2011, drove in the Mariners’ first run with a single in the sixth. Vogelbach just missed a two-hit game because Jason Heyward had robbed him of a two-run homer with a leaping catch at the wall in right to end the fourth.
Split squads: Angels at Cubs, Mesa, 2:05 p.m. Monday, ESPN, Julio Teheran vs. Kyle Hendricks; Cubs at Athletics, Mesa, 9:05 p.m. Monday, Alec Mills vs. Frankie Montas.