Jon Lester achieves two milestones, gets plenty of help…

Jon Lester hit his first major-league home run Tuesday night and earned his 2,000th career strikeout.

The Cubs, though, are all about depth in their quest for another National League Central title, as they demonstrated during and after Lester’s achievements.

They slugged five home runs and collected 17 hits in coasting to a 16-4 victory over the Diamondbacks before a festive crowd at Wrigley Field.

“It was one of our best overall performances,” manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cubs (57-48) maintained their 21/2-game lead over the Brewers and improved to 14-3 in the second half.

“The feeling is back,” Anthony Rizzo said after hitting his 25th and 26th home runs. “We’ve got (those) good vibes, good juices.”

With the addition of left-hander Justin Wilson, the Cubs feel even stronger about their bullpen options, which were needed sooner than expected as Lester was pulled after four-plus innings and 104 pitches.

“Jon was good,” Maddon said. “They just kept fouling off pitches.”

Said Lester: “I’ve got to figure out a way to get through five-plus innings with 100-plus pitches.”

The construction of the Cubs roster has enabled Maddon to employ many lineups, including Tuesday’s that featured Rizzo as the only left-handed-hitting position player.

Maddon was aware right-handed hitters were batting .312 against Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin entering the game, and the Cubs responded with 10 hits in three innings against him.

This marked the fourth straight season Rizzo has hit at least 25 homers. Ian Happ started a four-run second with a homer, and Javier Baez highlighted a seven-run sixth by smacking a three-run homer.

Lester, who started his career hitless in 66 at-bats, seized the moment by ripping a pitch from Corbin over the wall in left-center that traveled an estimated 398 feet.

“It was cool,” Lester said. “It was something you can’t describe. It’s a good feeling.”

He received a big hug from fellow pitcher John Lackey, who has a bet with Lester on who will have more hits and homers, before coming out of the dugout for a curtain call.

The Cubs’ 17 hits and five homers tied season highs.

As Maddon tries to protect his bullpen, he’ll also try to keep his position players fresh. The addition of catcher Alex Avila gives him the flexibility to play Willson Contreras in left field or at first base.

Maddon might try to give Rizzo another rest soon.

“When you run out of gas, you ain’t getting new gas till spring training,” Maddon said before the game.

Maddon described the possibility of using Contreras at other positions as a “delicate balance” because of the need to play others, such as Albert Almora Jr. against left-handers and Kyle Schwarber against right-handers.

“It’s a wonderful problem to have,” Maddon said.

Twitter @MDGonzales

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