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Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber lead Cubs past Sox 6-3 for third straight

The Cubs and White Sox finished their four-game set Thursday night headed in opposite directions.

The Cubs’ 6-3 victory — behind the pitching of Jon Lester and slugging of Kyle Schwarber — gave them a 1½-game lead in the National League Central over the Brewers, who lost to the Nationals.

The Cubs are 11-2 since the All-Star break — including victories the last three days against the rebuilding Sox — and have made up seven games against the Brewers in that span.

They open a three-game series in Milwaukee on Friday night.

Schwarber after his go-ahead home run in the fourth.

The Sox?

“The big question is how does it feel to hand over the [Crosstown] Cup?” manager Rick Renteria said, smiling. “Not very good.”

The Sox held the Cup since beating the Cubs in the season series in 2014 (the teams splitting each of the last two years).

Humor is about the only thing the Sox have left after spending the last month shedding the organization of nearly every productive, movable veteran — with a few days still left before the trading deadline.

“We’re playing a different group of White Sox than we might have played two or three weeks ago,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We probably caught them at the right time this year based on what they have going on organizationally.”

The Sox have lost 12 of 13, 15 of 17 and 24 of their last 32 games.

Lester (8-6) was in control from the start against the gutted Sox lineup, allowing just two runs on four hits in seven innings. It was his third consecutive start out of the break of at least seven innings (3-0, 2.05 ERA in those starts).

That ran the Cubs rotation’s second-half run to 10-0 with a 2.50 ERA in the 13 games since the break.

The Sox managed just six hits against Cubs starters in 13‰ innings the last two nights, three of them homers, including one each by Willy Garcia and Jose Abreu on Thursday night.

Abreu added a second homer in the ninth.

Schwarber had one of his biggest performances in his season of struggles.

He hit a go-ahead, two-run homer off starter Mike Pelfrey in the fourth, added a run-scoring triple off the center-field wall against lefty David Holmberg in the sixth  and homered off rookie lefty Aaron Bummer in the eighth.

“He’s definitely more at ease with himself, definitely has more self-confidence,” Maddon said of Schwarber since a two-week demotion to Class AAA Iowa. “Right now the game’s slowing down again for him, and his confidence is building.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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