A’s rough up Lester in 11-4 rout of Cubs

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CHICAGO — A night after their late rally fell just short, the Oakland Athletics started quickly and took their frustration out on Jon Lester.

Lester was tagged for a career high-tying 11 runs in only four innings, with Dustin Garneau and Stephen Piscotty hitting three-run homers that led the A’s over the Chicago Cubs 11-4 on Tuesday night.

Lester (9-8) was roughed up for the second straight start. He allowed 11 runs — 10 of them earned — on 10 hits and three walks to match the worst outing of his 14-year career on July 22, 2012, when he was with Boston and faced Toronto.

“What happened is I gave up 11 runs,” Lester said. “I’m pretty much the weakest link in the rotation right now and I’ve got to figure out a way to right that ship. Our rotation has pitched well, except for me if you look at the last few games.”

Garneau’s drive to the back row of the bleachers in left field was the big blow in an eight-run, second-inning burst. The A’s went on to their seventh win in nine games and remained one-half game behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card.

“I don’t know that he has had an inning like that probably before in his career,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, whose team lost 6-5 in the series opener on Monday. “We made him work, drew some walks, got some big hits and obviously Garneau’s home run gave us some distance. It was pretty impressive.”

Brett Anderson (10-7) cruised to his first win in a month, scattering seven hits over six innings. He also contributed two singles at the plate.

Anderson was staked to a big early lead thanks to residual energy in the A’s bats.

Oakland trailed 6-2 on Monday before homers by Marcus Semien and Nick Martini narrowed it to 6-5.

Semien then flied out the warning track to end that game, coming up just short in his bid for a third homer on the night.

“I think even though we lost last night, the way we finished that game, it 100% carried over to today,” Piscotty said. “It was great to see that roll over, and we’ve got a big one tomorrow. We want to win the series.”

Kris Bryant homered as the NL Central-leading Cubs had their four-game winning streak end in a drubbing that took only 2 hours, 37 minutes.

“That was a pretty fast butt-kicking right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Jonny just had a bad day.”

Cubs catcher Taylor Davis pitched a scoreless ninth. Oakland loaded the bases with three singles and none out, but didn’t get a run.

Davis had entered the game behind the plate in the fifth when starting catcher Victor Caratini replaced Anthony Rizzo at first base.

Matt Olson had two RBIs and Mark Canha and Chad Pinder each drove in a run as the A’s broke loose early.

Cubs reliever Duane Underwood Jr. struck out all six Oakland batters he faced in the fifth and sixth to tie a team record for consecutive strikeouts by a reliever.

Underwood was making his first appearance this season and second of his career after being recalled from Triple-A on Monday, when the Cubs put closer Craig Kimbrel on the 10-day injured list.

Kyle Schwarber drove in two runs in the ninth off reliever Wei-Chung Wang.

The A’s sent 12 batters to the plate in the second and eight of them reached base consecutively — a stretch with five hits, two walks and an error. Chicago had not allowed more than five runs in an inning this season.

Garneau made it 4-0 with his homer and Olson singled in two more runs. Canha made it 7-0 on a grounder when Rizzo threw home perfectly, but Caratini couldn’t hold on as Mark Chapman slid in. Pinder’s RBI groundout completed the rally.

Piscotty’s three-run homer off Lester in the fourth upped it to 11-0.

Turnaround

Anderson improved to 4 for 6 at the plate this season. He was 8 for 79 (.101) for his career entering 2019.

Dish duty

OF Schwarber, who started his career as a catcher, was back behind the plate for the ninth inning when Davis pitched.

Trainer’s room

Athletics: Melvin said it’s unlikely C Josh Phegley (left thumb contusion) will come off the 10-day IL before the A’s return from their current road trip on Aug. 15. Phegley is eligible to return on Aug. 8.

Cubs: RHP Brandon Kintzler was placed the 10-day injured list (right pectoral inflammation) and RHP Pedro Strop (left neck tightness) was activated.

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