JAY COHEN, AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester loved everything about Tuesday night, except for his performance on the mound.
Lester hit his first major league homer and struck out nine to reach 2,000 for his career, helping the Chicago Cubs to a runaway 16-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. But he was pulled in the fifth, and that part was frustrating for the ace left-hander.
“My name doesn’t have first base or outfield next to it. It has a P next to it, and my job is to pitch,” he said, “and on the pitching side of it, wasn’t exceptionally well tonight.”
Anthony Rizzo went deep twice and Ian Happ and Javier Baez also connected as Chicago kicked off a six-game homestand with its 14th win in 17 games since the All-Star break. Rizzo, Baez and Albert Almora Jr. each drove in three runs, and Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras had two RBIs apiece.
The World Series champions rapped out 17 hits in their highest-scoring game of the season and stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central. Hector Rondon (3-1) got five outs for the win, and Mike Montgomery pitched three innings for his third save.
“It’s back. The feeling is back,” Rizzo said. “All those good vibes, all those good juices that we’ve had for the last couple years is back. Just a different look in guys’ eyes. It’s a different feeling. I can’t pinpoint it to one thing. It’s just everyone feels really good right now.”
Adam Rosales had two hits and two RBIs in his first game with Arizona after he was acquired Monday in a trade with Oakland. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock contributed two hits apiece, but the Diamondbacks were unable to overcome Patrick Corbin’s worst start in weeks and a rough performance by their bullpen.
“I just didn’t have it tonight,” Corbin said. “I’ve got to be better. It starts with fastball command, and that’s something I was lacking tonight.”
Arizona lost for the third time in four games and fell a half-game back of Colorado for the top spot in the NL wild-card standings.
“There were a lot of things that happened today that weren’t Arizona Diamondbacks baseball,” manager Torey Lovullo said.
With two outs and Happ on first in the third, Lester drove a 2-2 pitch from Corbin over the wall in center to make it 8-1. The crowd of 40,709 roared as Lester trotted around the bases and kept cheering until he popped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
“It was cool, man,” Lester said. “Yeah, that’s something that you can’t really describe. I mean it’s a cool feeling.”
Lester, a .072 career hitter coming into the night, also singled and scored in Chicago’s four-run second. But manager Joe Maddon came out to get him after the first three batters reached in the fifth, leaving him just short of his fourth straight victory.
“Jon was good,” Maddon said. “They just kept fouling off pitches.”
Corbin (8-10) lasted just three innings in his shortest outing of the season. He allowed eight runs, seven earned, and 10 hits after going 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA over his previous four starts.
The Cubs sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run sixth, highlighted by Baez’s three-run shot. Rizzo led off the seventh with his 26th homer in his return to the lineup after missing Sunday’s victory over the Brewers with back soreness.
Infielder Daniel Descalso became the first position player to pitch for the Diamondbacks since Josh Wilson in 2009 and the sixth overall in franchise history when he worked a perfect eighth inning. It was Descalso’s second career pitching appearance.
“I walked up to him and asked him if he’s pitched before,” Lovullo said. “He said he’s done it, he’s comfortable doing it and he knows how to do it without getting hurt. That’s the most important thing.”
Cubs: Baez appeared to be favoring his left leg coming out of the box on a groundout in the fifth inning, but he stayed in the game. … Maddon thinks he might have an easier time selling a day off to Rizzo after his back issue over the weekend. “I think we need to be proactive to make sure that Anthony is well,” he said.
Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (10-7, 4.03 ERA) tries to build on an impressive July when he starts the second game of the series Wednesday night. Right-hander Zack Godley (4-4, 3.06 ERA) pitches for the Diamondbacks. Arrieta went 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts last month. Godley pitched seven sharp innings in a 4-0 victory at St. Louis on Thursday.
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