CHICAGO -- Jon Lester shrugged off a home run on his second pitch of the game to throw his first complete game of the season on Wednesday night, leading the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field.
Lester struck out 10 and went the distance for the first time since last Sept. 15, against the Pirates. Enrique Hernandez launched a Lester fastball into the left-field bleachers to open the game, and that was one of just four hits off the Cubs lefty. Chicago starting pitchers now are 5-0 in the last six games and have given up four earned runs over 40 1/3 innings for a 0.89 ERA.
"I think that might have been the best I've seen Jonny since I've been here," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He gives up a leadoff homer and then nothing. That's physically the best I've seen him pitch here."
Kris Bryant may have picked up a few more votes for the All-Star Game. The leading vote-getter among National League third basemen in the latest fan balloting, Bryant smacked a two-run homer to back Lester.
The Dodgers' Mike Bolsinger took the loss, serving up two hits over five innings, including Bryant's home run, and striking out six in his third start of the season. The Chicago native, who opened the season on the disabled list with an injured right oblique, was pitching on eight days' rest.
"He matched [Lester] pretty much pitch for pitch, and made a mistake, and Bryant hit it out of the ballpark," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I thought we had a chance to win all night and didn't really give ourselves a chance."
The Cubs won for the seventh time in their last eight games, and their 36-15 start is the best since the 1907 team opened 40-11.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Power ranger: Bryant, who led the Cubs with seven home runs in May, got off to a good start in June. Dexter Fowler walked to open the third, and one out later, Bryant connected on his 12th home run off Bolsinger to put Chicago ahead, 2-1. According to Statcast™, Bryant's homer was estimated to travel at 411 feet, tied for his fourth longest this year. Bolsinger had struck out Bryant on three curveballs in his previous at-bat, so he made an adjustment.
"I knew I'd get another one in the zone, and I took advantage of it," Bryant said. "I take pride in closing up the hole that they got me out in the previous at-bat, and I think I did that."
Fast start: It didn't take long for Hernandez to reward Roberts for giving Chase Utley a day off. Hernandez hit his third homer of the season just two pitches into the game off Lester to give the Dodgers a quick 1-0 lead. The ball traveled 365 feet and cleared the basket atop the wall in left.
"When you pitch in to righties like [Lester] does, you have to find out if guys are ready to hit or not," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "That's the price you pay. We found out who was ready to hit and who wasn't. That guy was ready to hit."
Going the distance: The theme this week for the Cubs' pitchers has been pitch efficiency, and Lester continued that. The key for the lefty was the seventh inning, when he needed just six pitches to retire Trayce Thompson, Joc Pederson and A.J. Ellis in order. Lester threw 113 pitches in the game, the third complete game by a Cubs starter this season and second of this homestand.
"That seventh inning made me think he had a chance to go the distance," Ross said. More >
Nice hops: Thompson comes from a basketball family, and put his own vertical leap to good use for the Dodgers in the fourth. Thompson, the 6-foot-3 brother of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, glided over to the foul line in right field on a fly ball hit by Addison Russell and made a leaping grab against the brick wall for the first out. It was a Gold Glove-caliber play, which Thompson has proven capable of making more than once.
Roberts was asked if Thompson might win a Gold Glove in the future.
"Trayce works as hard, if not harder, than anybody defensively to prepare himself," Roberts said. "But the Gold Glove? It takes a lot of work, and Trayce would certainly bet on himself."
NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who grew up a Cubs fan in suburban Batavia, Ill., threw the ceremonial first pitch and led the crowd in the seventh-inning stretch. Sager was the perfect guest to have on "Conquer Cancer Night." He's battling leukemia, and said he represents all those fighting cancer.
"My goal is to fight through it. Let's find a medical breakthrough, and people won't have to do what I've had to do," Sager said. More >
Cubs closer Hector Rondon was not available on Wednesday. Maddon said Rondon's back was stiff before the game and that he wasn't sure if Rondon would be available on Thursday for the finale.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers: Rookie left-hander Julio Urias will start the finale on Thursday. Urias, 19, will make his second Major League start, replacing scheduled starter Kenta Maeda, whose pitching hand hasn't fully recovered from being struck with a line drive. Urias allowed three runs in just 2 2/3 innings against the Mets in his Major League debut on May 27. First pitch will be at 11:20 a.m. PT.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will start the series finale on Thursday. The right-hander is coming off a complete-game victory over the Phillies in which he gave up one run on five hits. He's 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two career starts vs. the Dodgers. First pitch will be at 1:20 p.m. CT.