|11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE1:20 PM CT, July 13, 2019
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 40,286
Lester, Cubs look to keep rolling vs. Pirates
Despite an 11-16 record in their last 27 games, the Chicago Cubs remain atop the National League Central following Friday afternoon's 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was an important win in a tight division race in which all five teams are within close range of the lead. And even though the Cubs blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning, they got six scoreless innings from starter Yu Darvish and a clutch hit from Jason Heyward.
The Cubs' struggles of late have led to talk of manager Joe Maddon not being brought back if the team fails to improve and win the Central. But in the here and now, the Cubs can build on their 3 1/2-game lead over the Pirates when they turn to veteran left-hander Jon Lester Saturday at Wrigley Field.
The last time Lester (8-6, 3.72 ERA) faced the Pirates, he lasted just two innings before leaving with hamstring tightness on April 8 in Chicago. He hasn't had a no-decision since May 7 but has been unable to string more than two consecutive wins together since then.
Lester, a five-time All-Star, is 9-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 19 career starts against the Pirates. The 35-year-old left-hander seeks career win No. 186 on Saturday.
The Pirates could at least take some solace in rallying from a 3-0 deficit to tie on Friday, and remain in striking distance of the Cubs. Pittsburgh sends right-hander Jordan Lyles to the mound to try to even the series.
Lyles is the pitcher whose high-and-tight pitches to Cubs star Javier Baez and others in a game on July 4 -- Lyles' most recent start -- so upset Maddon that he was ejected by umpire Joe West for arguing vehemently.
"Anybody who gets thrown up and in, I can understand them saying something, absolutely. That's not one of our teaching techniques," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
It could make for an interesting backdrop to the game, with Lester's temperament. Lester is 5-2 with a 2.42 ERA at home this season.
"We have games to win. We can't worry about that. We have plenty of other stuff to worry about as a team," Cubs All-Star Kris Bryant told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lyles (5-5, 4.36) has a respectable record but hasn't recorded a win in a start since May 23. His earned run average surged over 4 to 4.36 after he gave up seven runs in four innings to the Cubs at PNC Park on July 4. Bryant, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras hit home runs off Lyles that day.
Lyles is 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA in 14 career appearances against the Cubs, eight of those being starts.
The Cubs and Pirates are deadlocked at 4-4 in games against each other this season. They have 11 games left against each other.
--Field Level Media
Updated July 13, 2019