ANAHEIM (AP) — Jon Lester pitched seven strong innings in his season debut and the Chicago Cubs got home runs from Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler and Matt Szczur in a 6-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
Lester (1-0) threw 93 pitches, allowing a run and four hits. The three-time All-Star, who broke Ken Holtzman’s 1970 franchise record for strikeouts by a left-hander with 207 last season, fanned four and walked none in his 12th career start against the Angels.
Lester, who won two World Series rings with Boston, is in the second season of a $155 million, six-year contract. Last year, his first in the National League, he was 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 32 starts.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney (0-1) gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Heaney retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the first, but left the mound with a bloody nose after throwing his first pitch of the second inning to Rizzo. He got checked out in the dugout by trainer Adam Nevala, then was allowed to take a few warmups before continuing with gauze in his left nostril.
Szczur, who hit a three-run double in the ninth inning of the Cubs’ season-opening 9-0 win Monday night after entering the game as a defensive replacement, drove Heaney’s first pitch of the third over the double-decker bullpen in left to ignite a four-run rally.
Another run came in on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward, and Rizzo drove in two more with his homer to center field. Rizzo is coming off back-to-back seasons with 30 or more home runs — the first left-handed hitter in franchise history to record multiple 30-homer campaigns.
Fowler made it 6-1 in the seventh, hitting a 3-0 pitch from Mike Morin for a two-run shot to right, his first homer in 40 career at-bats at Angel Stadium.
Los Angeles got its first run of the season in the sixth on a single by Craig Gentry. It drove in Yunel Escobar, who legged out a double down the right-field line — barely avoiding the tag of shortstop Addison Russell after a strong throw by Heyward.
This is the first time the Cubs have started a season 2-0 since 1995. They have won their last 11 regular-season road games.
Szczur made his first start of the season in left field — one day after his alma mater, Villanova, won the NCAA men’s basketball championship on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins.
“Villanova won the national championship, so I thought he was a good bet today,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I just thought it was like absolutely poetic justice, wasn’t it? They won, then he comes up and gets that hit — pretty good night for the ‘Cats.”
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver, whose streak of six consecutive opening day starts ended on Monday night because of nerve problems in his neck and shoulder, threw about 60 pitches during a four-inning simulated game. “I thought he made progress for sure,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “As he got into his second inning, we saw his velocity start to pick up and I think he threw the ball well. So that’s a good sign. The next step for Jered if he comes out of this OK is a major league game.”
Cubs: RHP John Lackey makes his debut with Chicago on Thursday night against Arizona RHP Rubby De La Rosa in the opener of a four-game series at Chase Field.
Angels: LHP Hector Santiago opposes LHP Derek Holland in the opener of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers at the Big A.
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