CHICAGO (AP) Giants manager Bruce Bochy could see Chris Heston was out of sync right from the start. By the time he settled down, it was too late.

Rookie slugger Kyle Schwarber homered in his second consecutive game, and the Chicago Cubs beat San Francisco 5-4 Thursday night.

The Cubs, playing meaningful baseball in August for the first time in years, won for the seventh time in eight games. They also moved a half-game ahead of the Giants in the race for the second NL wild card.

Jorge Soler drove in the first two runs with a bases-loaded single in the first inning, and Schwarber made it 5-0 with a three-run drive off Heston (11-6) in the second – his first homer at Wrigley Field.

“He’s had a couple starts like this – he’s bounced back,” Bochy said. “He’s a tough kid. That first inning is so critical and you try to get settled in, but we could tell he was out of sync there and sometimes, it’s hard to find it.”

San Francisco’s Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer off Jason Hammel in the fourth and Brandon Crawford added another one off Tommy Hunter in the sixth to make it 5-4.

Jason Motte and Pedro Strop each worked a scoreless inning for the Cubs. Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 chances.

Hunter Pence had two hits and scored two runs, but the Giants lost for just the sixth time in 22 games.

“They’re a talented club,” Bochy said. “They’ve got a lot of young talent, got a lot of good arms. You saw the arms they’ve got out of the ‘pen – good velocity, good stuff, good lineup. They’re not going anywhere. That’s a good club.”

Neither starter lasted long, with Heston going only four innings and Hammel getting lifted after he walked the first two batters in the fifth.

Heston, tops among major league rookies in wins, went four innings and took the loss after going 5-0 in his previous eight starts for San Francisco. He gave up five runs and five hits, walked two and hit a batter with a pitch.

“I painted myself in a corner a few times and had to make better pitches than I needed to,” Heston said. “It was just nibble, nibble, fall into hitters’ counts and then these guys are going to make you pay.”

Hammel allowed two runs and three hits. He was upset he got pulled after walking Ehire Adrianza and Hector Sanchez. Justin Grimm (2-3) escaped the jam.

Hammel talked to manager Joe Maddon and insisted they are on the same page. The pitcher also thought plate umpire Manny Gonzalez had a tight strike zone.

“I understand the magnitude of the situation,” Hammel said. “As a competitor, I want to be out there and clean up my own mess.”


Maddon when asked if fans should temper their expectations with the Cubs in the playoff race for the first time in years: “I’m not into temperance, I guess.”


Giants: RHP Mike Leake will miss a turn in the rotation because of a strained left hamstring. Acquired from Cincinnati last week, Leake was scheduled to make his second start for the Giants on Friday. … OF Angel Paganreturned to the lineup after missing two games with soreness in his knees.

Cubs: Maddon said C Miguel Montero (sprained left thumb), rehabbing with Double-A Tennessee, is “getting close” to a return from the 15-day disabled list. … GM Jed Hoyer said INF Tommy La Stella (right rib cage inflammation), on the 60-day DL, will play Friday and Saturday for Tennessee and then be re-evaluated. Hoyer said La Stella is “itching” to return.


LHP Jon Lester (6-8, 3.26 ERA) starts for the Cubs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong (7-7, 4.16) goes for the Giants in Leake’s place.

Updated August 7, 2015

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