CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester bounced back from his worst start of the season with six strong innings and the Cubs scored the go-ahead run in the eighth on Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed’s throwing error as Chicago edged the Diamondbacks 2-1 on Wednesday.
Chicago mounted the winning rally against Arizona reliever T.J. McFarland (2-2) without getting a ball out of the infield. Pinch-hitter Javier Baez led off the eighth by squibbing a single toward the mound. McFarland threw wide of first, and Baez advanced to second.
After pitcher Tyler Chatwood ran for Baez, who didn’t start because of a sore left knee, and Ian Happ walked, pinch-hitter Jason Heyward bounced to second baseman Ketel Marte. Marte flipped to Ahmed for a force at second, but Ahmed’s throw to first sailed over Paul Goldschmidt as he tried to complete a double play.
Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. (3-1) pitched a hitless seventh and eighth. Pedro Strop tossed a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in seven chances as NL Central leading Chicago bounced back after losses to Arizona in the first two games of the four-game series.
Ben Zobrist singled in Albert Almora Jr. to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
A.J. Pollock hit a solo shot off Lester to lead off the seventh to tie it at 1.
Lester allowed one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking none in six-plus innings, but was matched by a strong outing by Robbie Ray. Arizona’s left-hander went seven innings, also yielding four hits while fanning six and walking one. Ray was efficient, shaking off a funk that left him 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA in his last four starts.
Lester rebounded from his shortest and worst start of the season, last Friday against St. Louis when he allowed a season-high eight runs in the first three innings of the Cardinals’ 18-5 rout. Even with the lopsided loss to St. Louis, Lester is 9-1 in his last 11 starts.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant didn’t start for the second straight day with a recurrence of the left shoulder inflammation that caused the slugger to miss 16 games. Manager Joe Maddon said Bryant’s injury requires rest, and the two-time All-Star is out day-to-day.
Baez’s suffered his bruised knee when Arizona’s Steven Souza Jr. slid hard into the All-Star at second in the seventh inning of the Diamondbacks’ 5-1 win on Tuesday night.
After Souza bunted foul in the fourth inning, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras retrieved the ball from the first base side and threw it over the roof on the third-base side of Wrigley Field.
Cubs: RH closer Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) said he’s “moving in the right direction,” but still has some soreness and won’t be ready to come of the disabled list on Saturday when he’s eligible. Morrow, who has 22 saves in 24 chances, went on the DL on June 18. . RH starter Yu Darvish, who hasn’t pitched since May 20 (right elbow impingement and inflammation) is expected to throw a bullpen session in St. Louis on Friday. . Bryant didn’t play between June 22 and July 11 because of his shoulder pain, which bothers the 2016 MVP on his swing follow-through. Maddon didn’t know if Bryant’s injury flare-up might lead to another stint on the DL.
Arizona RHP Zack Godley (11-6, 4.65) faces Chicago RHP Tyler Chatwood (4-5, 4.84) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday afternoon. Chatwood leads the majors with 79 walks.