Lester bounced back from his worst start of the season by pitching one-run ball over six innings, and the Chicago Cubs broke an eighth-inning tie on shortstop Nick Ahmed's throwing error in a 2-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.
Lester allowed four hits while striking out seven and walking none. He had given up a season-high eight runs in the first three innings an 18-5 loss to St. Louis last week. Still, he is 9-1 in his last 11 starts.
"I felt a lot better," Lester said. "Obviously the results are night-and-day compared to last time."
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant didn't start for the second straight day because of a recurrence of the left shoulder inflammation that caused the slugger to miss 16 games between June 22 and July 11. Manager Joe Maddon didn't know if Bryant's injury flare-up might lead to another stint on the DL.
Baez bruised his knee when Arizona's Steven Souza Jr. slid hard into the All-Star at second base in the seventh inning of the Diamondbacks' 5-1 win on Tuesday night.
Chicago mounted the go-ahead rally against T.J. McFarland (2-2) without getting a ball out of the infield. Baez pinch hit leading off the inning and squibbed 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, Ian Happ walked and pinch-hitter Jason Heyward bounced to Ketel Marte. The second baseman flipped to Ahmed for a forceout at second, but Ahmed's throw to first sailed over first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for an error as he tried to complete a double play.
"I did not have a good grip," Ahmed said. "In hindsight, I probably -- even if I did have a good grip -- should not have thrown it. It was a big spot in the game, I was trying to make a play and forced it a little bit too much."
"We won the game as weird as it looked," said center fielder Albert Almora Jr., who had two doubles and made shoestring catch early. "All it takes is one at-bat to change it."
"Javy hit a little scribbler and at 50 percent. was able to get down the line and make this impression on the pitcher to make an erratic throw and that starts everything off," Almora added.
Carl Edwards Jr. (3-1) pitched a hitless seventh and eighth. Pedro Strop pitched around Goldschmidt's one-out double in the ninth for his fourth save in seven chances. The NL Central-leading Cubs had lost the first two games of the four-game series.
Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray gave up four hits in seven innings with six strikeouts and one walk. He had been 0-2 with a 7.65 ERA in his previous four starts.
"It was a great effort by Robbie," manager Torey Lovullo said. "Ordinarily, we play exceptional defense. For us to break down in a couple of key areas. That's identifiable; we don't expect it."
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: RHP Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) still has some soreness and won't be ready to come off the DL on Saturday when he's eligible. Morrow, who has 22 saves in 24 chances, went on the DL on June 18. ... RHP 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.
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. Chatwood leads the majors with 79 walks.
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