Addison Russell's first Major League home run was all the offense Jon Lester would need as the Chicago Cubs (13-8) shut out the Milwaukee Brewers (5-18) 1-0 Friday afternoon in the first of a three-game weekend series.
Leading off the botom of the third, Russell ran the count full before taking Wily Peralta into the future left-field bleachers (1) for the first of many Big League home runs to come.
That solo shot was all the scoring for either team for the entire game even though the Cubs pounded out nine hits. Jorge Soler and Starlin Castro each had two hits, but the Cubs left eight men on base. Gerardo Parra collected two of Milwaukee's four hits.
After a shortened Spring Training and a few rough starts, Lester (W: 1-2, 4.71 ERA) is starting to look like the pitcher of 2014 that the Cubs signed to a six-year, $155-million contract during the offseason. On Friday, Lester pitched seven scoreless innings of three-hit baseball. He walked one and struck out four. He came into the game with a 6.23 ERA, but that went down approximately a run and a half. He has now allowed three earned runs in his last two starts combined, a total of 13 innings.
Pedro Strop pitched a perfect eight with two strikeouts, and Hector Rondon (S: 5) closed it out for the save. He allowed one hit and fanned two.
Peralta (L: 0-4, 4.35) suffered the tough-luck loss. Russell's home run was the only run he allowed in six innings in lowering his ERA from 5.04. He scattered eight hits, walked two, and struck out six.
On Saturday, Mike Fiers (0-3, 5.79) will pitch for the Brewers, and Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.03) will go for the Cubs. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EDT.