CHICAGO — Jon Lester pitched six strong innings and sparked a five-run rally that put the game away with a fifth-inning single to lead the Chicago Cubs to an 8-3 win over the visiting Atlanta Braves on Monday.
Lester (7-5) allowed two runs, both unearned, on five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He improved his career record against the Braves to 7-2.
Lester singled with one on and none out in the fifth, then the next five batters drove in five runs to make it 7-0 -- all runs charged to Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (5-6). During the outburst, Chicago got an RBI double from Kyle Schwarber, run-scoring singles from Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, an RBI double from Javier Baez and a run-scoring grounder by Willson Contreras.
Teheran worked four-plus innings -- he failed to retire any of the six batters he faced in the fifth -- and allowed seven runs on nine hits and three walks. He struck out two. After a streak of eight starts without allowing more than three runs, Teheran has permitted 13 runs in eight innings over his last two outings.
Contreras put the Cubs on the scoreboard with a solo homer, his 16th, in the second inning and his antics following the blast set a testy tone for the rest of the game. After hitting the ball, Contreras turned and had words with Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers before starting around the bases. As he rounded first, Contreras made a motion to the Atlanta dugout and pounded his chest. He then yelled at Flowers after crossing the plate.
The benches and bullpens then emptied as former Braves outfielder Jason Heyward tried to push Contreras toward the dugout. Chicago manager Joe Maddon approached Flowers and tried to smooth things over before returning to the dugout. There were no further incidents.
Contreras, who extended his hitting streak to eight games, drove in another run in the fourth inning on a single that scored Baez. He was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
The Braves scored twice in the sixth on a two-run single by Nick Markakis and picked up a run in the eighth on Dansby Swanson's 15th homer.
Heyward struck his 11th homer, a solo shot, in the eighth to finish the scoring.