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Contreras homers off Lester as Cubs beat Nationals 7-3

Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Javier Báez homered off Jon Lester in his return to Chicago, and the Cubs beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Monday.

Lester and Kyle Schwarber, two key members of Chicago's 2016 World Series championship team, heard loud cheers all night long in their first game against their former team. Contreras put his arm around Schwarber's shoulders before he batted in the first inning, and the catcher gave Lester a brief hug when the pitcher was at the plate in the third.

Schwarber celebrated with a two-run homer into the Wrigley Field bleachers in the fourth. Per the custom at Chicago's iconic ballpark — even for old friends like the affable Schwarber — the ball was thrown back onto the field.

Chicago Cubs' Willson Contreras, left, is greeted by Javier Baez, right, after scoring against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, May, 17, 2021, in Chicago. (AP PhotoDavid Banks)

In between the standing ovations and cheering for Lester and Schwarber, the Cubs were mostly all business during their third win in four games.

Adbert Alzolay (2-3) pitched five innings of three-run ball in his first win since April 29. Second baseman Nico Hoerner robbed Starlin Castro of a bases-loaded hit with a terrific diving stop in the eighth. Eric Sogard and Heyward tacked on run-scoring singles to help Chicago close it out.

Trea Turner hit his 10th homer for Washington, which had won three of four. Josh Bell reached three times on two singles and a walk.

Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez (9) gestures as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, May, 17, 2021, in Chicago. (AP PhotoDavid Banks)

The crowd of 11,144 — a season high for Wrigley — saluted Schwarber with a long ovation after the Cubs paid tribute to the slugger with a pregame highlight video. It was more of the same when Schwarber walked to the plate in the first.

The 37-year-old Lester (0-2) got the same treatment when he took the mound for the bottom of the first. The left-hander took his cap off briefly in appreciation, and then quickly went back to his routine.

The warm welcome for Lester quickly gave way to a series of hard-hit balls for the Cubs, who scored in each of the first three innings. Heyward's two-run shot made it 3-0 in the second, and Contreras connected for his eighth homer in the third.

Washington Nationals' Kyle Schwarber (12) hits a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Monday, May, 17, 2021, in Chicago. (AP PhotoDavid Banks)

After Schwarber trimmed Chicago's lead to 4-3 with his sixth of the year, Báez chased Lester with an opposite-field shot with one out in the sixth. Lester heard another loud ovation as he trudged off the field and into the visitor's dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled for an extended bullpen Tuesday. Manager Dave Martinez said Strasburg will throw around 50 pitches. “I just want to make sure that he's completely healthy,” Martinez said. “So far, so good.”

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jon Lester (34) stands on the mound as manager Dave Martinez, right, takes him out of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning Monday, May, 17, 2021, in Chicago. (AP PhotoDavid Banks)

UP NEXT

Left-hander Patrick Corbin (2-3, 6.19 ERA) pitches for Washington on Tuesday, and right-hander Zach Davies (2-2, 5.60 ERA) starts for Chicago. Corbin is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three May starts. Davies also has pitched well this month, allowing two earned runs in 16 1/3 innings.

Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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