CHICAGO — Rookie Kyle Schwarber continued his surge with two hits and two RBIs to back Jon Lester, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 7-3 for their eighth win in nine games Friday.
Schwarber, who homered the previous two games, also scored two runs to help put the Cubs 1 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco for the second wild card. They also moved 12 games over .500 for the first time since the 2008 NL Central championship season.
Schwarber doubled and scored in the first, then drove in two and came around in the fifth. The Cubs scored five in that inning to break open a 1-1 game.
Dexter Fowler homered and had three of Chicago’s 12 hits.
Jorge Soler chipped in with a single and two-run double. Chris Coghlan added a pair of singles and an RBI, and Hector Rondon worked the final 1 2-3 innings for his 18th save in 21 chances.
Lester (7-8) gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings. He walked two and struck out three after finishing with a season-high 14 Ks against Colorado last week.
Tommy Hunter gave up a leadoff homer to Nori Aoki in the eighth that cut it to 6-3. Rondon came in with a runner on second and retired the final two batters before working the ninth for his second save in as many games.
San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong (7-8) got a rather quick hook filling in for Mike Leake, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of a strained left hamstring.
Vogelsong lasted four-plus innings, allowing three runs and six hits.
He left with runners on second and third in the fifth after Addison Russell singled and Dexter Fowler doubled off the right-field wall.
Jeremy Affeldt came in, and Schwarber, who began the day with a .342 average, drove a two-run single off a diving second baseman Kelby Tomlinson’s glove.
That made it 3-1 and the Cubs were not finished.
Affeldt walked Kris Bryant with two out to put runners on first and third, and Soler followed with a two-run double down the left-field line against Yusmeiro Petit. David Ross then drove him in with a single to boost the lead to five before Lester — the inning’s ninth batter — struck out.
The Cubs juggled their lineup, and three-time All-Star Starlin Castro no longer seems to be the undisputed everyday shortstop.
Manager Joe Maddon wanted to keep going with the scorching Schwarber. That meant a few switches, with catcher Miguel Montero back from a sprained left thumb.
His return created a bit of a crowd behind the plate with Schwarber and Ross in the mix.