CHICAGO -- Jonathan Lester hit his first Major League home run, notched his 2,000th career strikeout and got homers from Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ and Javier Baez, to post a 16-4 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday night and continue the Cubs' hot second-half run."It's back -- the feeling's back,"
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Lester hit his first Major League home run, notched his 2,000th career strikeout and got homers from Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ and Javier Baez, to post a 16-4 victory over the D-backs on Tuesday night and continue the Cubs' hot second-half run.
"It's back -- the feeling's back," said Rizzo, who hit a pair of home runs. "All those good vibes, all those good juices that we've had for the last couple years is back. It's a different look in guys' eyes, a different feeling. I can't pinpoint it to one thing, but everyone feels really good now."
Lester connected against D-backs starter Patrick Corbin with two outs and one on in the third inning, only his 16th hit in 197 career at-bats. He also singled in the second to post his first career multi-hit game. Lester's start was moved up so he could attend the funeral of his uncle, who passed away last month.
"It's something you can't really describe," Lester said of his home run. "It's a cool feeling. Like I told you, I get paid to pitch. At the end of the day, yeah, [the home run was] awesome, it's great, I'm not downplaying it, but I'd rather take the win over that."
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In the fourth, Lester notched his ninth strikeout of the game and 2,000th of his career when he fanned pinch-hitter Jack Reinheimer, who won't forget his first Major League at-bat. The only downside was that Lester couldn't get the win. He was unable to retire any of the three batters he faced in the fifth and was lifted after giving up an RBI double to Adam Rosales on his 104th pitch.
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"[Lester] had good stuff," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He should've easily pitched a solid six [innings] today. ... [Hector Rondon] set the game right."
Rondon took over for Lester in the fifth with two on and nobody out, and escaped giving up one run. The right-hander picked up the win in relief.
Corbin's outing was his shortest of the season as he was pulled after three innings and 10 hits, including three home runs (Happ, Rizzo and Lester). Rizzo added another homer leading off the seventh for his 15th career multi-homer game and second this year.
"Just a slider there," Corbin said. "First pitch I threw a slider, a close one and then tried to throw another one for a strike there, and he just put a good swing on it. I threw three in the first at-bat and all three good ones. But just left one there, and he put the bat on it."
D-backs second baseman Daniel Descalso made his second career appearance on the mound when he pitched the eighth inning. With the Rockies' win over the Mets, Arizona fell to a half-game behind in the race for the top National League Wild Card spot. The D-backs hold a five-game lead over the Brewers in the Wild Card standings.
The Cubs scored seven runs in the sixth, including a two-run double by Willson Contreras and Baez's three-run homer, to win for the 14th time in 17 games since the All-Star break. They maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.
"We came out of the break, it's like a different team," Lester said. "Now we add [Alex] Avila and [Justin] Wilson to that mix [through trades]. That's huge. We're good, we're feeling good, we're having good quality at-bats. With the exception of tonight, the starters are going deep in the games."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lefties are all right: Left-handers were batting .232 against Corbin, but that didn't deter Rizzo. Happ led off the second with his 14th home run, launching a 3-2 pitch from Corbin 389 feet into the bleachers in left-center. Lester singled to right and reached third when third baseman Brandon Drury misplayed a grounder by Benjamin Zobrist for an error. This was Drury's first game at third base. Lester then scored on a sacrifice fly by Bryant to open a 4-0 lead. Rizzo followed with his 25th home run, driving in Zobrist, to make it 6-0. It was Rizzo's 10th homer off a southpaw and the fourth by a lefty batter off Corbin.
Before his at-bat in the first, Rizzo told the hitting coaches he was going to look for a slider.
"He threw two good ones and the last one I chased and I wasn't too happy about it," said Rizzo, who struck out in his first at-bat. "It's a game of adjustments and pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat."
Welcome home: Rosales, acquired from the A's on Monday, made a good first impression in his first game with the D-backs. He hit an RBI double in the fifth inning, which chased Lester. Rosales also hit an RBI single in the ninth. This also was a homecoming for Rosales, who grew up in Park Ridge, Ill., about 12 miles northwest of Wrigley Field. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo told Rosales that he would get the start in a phone call Monday.
"I said, 'You know what? The show is going to start, you're going to be starting at shortstop, hitting third for the Arizona Diamondbacks,'" Lovullo said. "I worked through that a little bit in my own mind. He just fit for the construction of the lineup. I didn't want to start to maneuver a lot of guys throughout the entire lineup."
"Give them credit. They worked some hard at-bats. They're really talented offensively. Maybe the home run will show up more with [J.D.] Martinez [recently added to the lineup], but they work good at-bats and they're a pain in the butt, and that's what got Jon out of the game." -- Maddon, on the D-backs
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Rizzo is the third Cubs left-handed hitter with at least four 25-homer seasons, joining Billy Williams (10 times, 1961-72) and Bill Nicholson (five times between 1940-47).
• Lester is the first Cubs pitcher to hit a home run and strike out at least nine in a game since Jacob Arrieta did so on Sept. 27, 2015.
D-backs:Zack Godley, who began his pro career in the Cubs' organization, will get the start Wednesday (5:05 p.m. MST) at Wrigley Field. Godley is coming off one of his best starts of the year -- seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Cubs: Arrieta went 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five July starts and makes his first outing in August on Wednesday in the second game of this three-game series. Arrieta has given up six or fewer hits in 13 straight starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT. Preview >>
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.