Rested, relaxed Cubs aim for extended win streak

Rested, relaxed Cubs aim for extended win streak

The issue hasn’t been as much about effort as it’s been about consistency.

And from Jon Lester’s point of view, if the Cubs’ rotation can start to match the excellence of the bullpen and the defense, another win streak may be looming.

“And then we may have the games where our guys are feeling sexy about themselves and score some runs,” Lester said Friday night after the Cubs’ 13-5 win over the Cardinals in which they snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak. “That’s a snowball effect, and a run. I feel we’ve been on a few runs, it’s just that they haven’t been over an extended period of time.

“I don’t have any concerns as far as inside this clubhouse.”

The clubhouse was in a relaxed mood after Kris Bryant broke out of an 0-for-16 slump with a two-run home run to help pace a 14-hit attack.

Bryant admitted the effects of getting a rest Wednesday helped him, adding that manager Joe Maddon told him, “I have no plans of using you” during a 1-0 loss at Milwaukee in which the Cubs could have used Bryant in the latter stages as a home run threat.

“I like it when (Maddon) gives us a day off going into an off-day,” Bryant said. “It gets you back on the right track. The season is so long, coming to field every day can get monotonous. So any time you can get a break, it’s huge.”

Bryant flew his parents from Las Vegas to watch him play for Father’s Day weekend, and they watched golf prior to Friday night’s game.

Bryant acknowledged that his homer, which snapped a streak of 107 at-bats without one, along with an opposite-field single and sacrifice fly that accounted for a season-high four RBIs, were “confidence boosters.”

“Kris is fine,” said Lester, who helped his cause by pitching six innings of two-hit ball and executing a squeeze bunt to score Javier Baez. “Anytime you have a guy like that who has such high expectations, not only of himself, but the other people outside of the baseball world, he feels that. He feels pressure from his teammates. He puts pressure on himself and wants to perform and do well every night. When he doesn’t do it, (the pressure) keeps adding on. That rock on his back gets bigger every time.

“He’ll be fine swinging the bat.”

Lester didn’t take any chances, even with a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth. He threw many off-speed pitches early in the count to keep the Cardinals’ hitters off-balance.

“You have to treat it like it’s a close game,” said Lester, who improved to 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in eight career starts at Busch Stadium.

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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