Cubs come up short, Lester finishes April without a win

 
 
Updated 4/26/2017 11:17 PM
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  • Associated PressChicago Cubs ace lefty Jon Lester finished April without a win. Lester fell to 0-1 Wednesday night during a 6-5 Cubs loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

    Associated PressChicago Cubs ace lefty Jon Lester finished April without a win. Lester fell to 0-1 Wednesday night during a 6-5 Cubs loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Sooner or later, Jon Lester will get a decision to go his way in 2017.

It wasn't to be Wednesday night in Pittsburgh for the Cubs ace left-hander.

For the second straight start, Lester allowed 5 earned runs, this time in a 6-5 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.

Lester finished April with a record of 0-1 with an ERA of 3.68 in 5 starts.

The Pirates jumped on Lester for 2 runs in the first inning and three in the second, and a Cubs comeback fell just short.

The Cubs wound up taking two of three in the series. They enjoy an off-day today in Boston before beginning a big interleague series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday.

In two of his early no-decisions, Lester was victimized by a lack of run support or late-inning bullpen implosions. He has now endured two straight rough outings. He gave up 5 runs at Cincinnati last Friday before his teammates bailed him out in a 6-5, 11-inning victory.

He wound up throwing 107 pitches in 5⅔ innings against the Pirates, giving up 10 hits while walking two, striking out five and giving up 2 home runs.

"It's probably the best I threw the ball all year," Lester said. "That's baseball."

Last year, Lester went 19-5 with a 2.44 ERA, finishing second in Cy Young Award balloting.

"I don't think he was really pleased with his last outing," manager Joe Maddon said of Lester on his pregame radio show Wednesday. "So I expect him to be really kicked in right now."

The Cubs probably don't have too much to be worried about when it comes to Lester. He will sit in the dugout this weekend when the Cubs face his former team, the Red Sox.

Maddon flip-flopped the starting rotation, beginning with the series in Cincinnati. He moved Lester ahead of Jake Arrieta, hoping to take advantage of Lester against the Pittsburgh lineup and allowing Arrieta to pitch in Boston.

The first half of the equation didn't quite work out for the Cubs.

There was nothing wrong with the Pirates' slugging percentage against Lester. Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first inning with a homer, and Francisco Cervelli later drove in a run with a double.

Phil Gosselin and Andrew McCutchen had RBI doubles in the Pirates second, and Josh Bell hit a long homer to center in the sixth. The Cubs got a 2-run homer from Anthony Rizzo in the eighth. It was Rizzo's fifth homer of the season. On the road trip, he has 4 homers and 12 RBI.

"We had the right guys up at the right time, and it did not work out," Maddon told reporters after the game.

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