Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cubs' Lester Suffers Tough Loss

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cubs' Lester Suffers Tough Loss

Article excerpt

It didn't take Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon long to decipher what would happen Friday night at Busch Stadium.

"From the beginning, I could see that (John) Lackey was on," he said. "I could see, after that first inning, Jon Lester was on. So you just figured like 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, that kind of a game. That's what I had in my mind's eye the whole night."

That's what was in everybody else's eyes, too, after 7 innings in Game 1 of the National League division series.

Cubs starter Lester gave up a run in the first and then no more until the eighth. Cardinals ace Lackey allowed just two hits and no runs through 7 1/3 innings before Kevin Siegrist fanned both hitters he faced to end the Chicago eighth.

But, after Lester got the first out of the home eighth, he made what he called "the wrong pitch at the right time for (Tommy) Pham."

The Cardinals' rookie pinch hitter rifled a 3-1 cutter down in the strike zone for a 431-foot homer and, after a walk to Matt Carpenter, Lester, who fanned nine, was finished for righthander Pedro Strop, who gave up a two-run clout to rookie Stephen Piscotty.

The Cubs' winning streak was finished at nine and their victory streak on the road was snapped at 10 in a 4-0 defeat.

"Lack made, really, one more pitch than I did tonight," said Lester, who is 1-4 against the Cardinals this year. But he said, "It's not like my ERA's over 5.00 (it was 2.56 before the game) against these guys. I've pitched pretty well against these guys."

Of his 115 pitches, Lester allowed that maybe only two of them were ones he would like to recall a first-inning, run-scoring single off a fastball by Matt Holliday and Pham's home run. "We're kind of picking at straws," said Lester.

"I can't nit-pick too much when you throw 115 pitches and two of them have bad outcomes. I don't like to second-guess. I was committed to every pitch tonight. They just got the best of us."

But Lester said of Pham's home run pitch, "He was obviously sitting on it.

"He didn't swing at anything away. It wasn't a terrible pitch. It wasn't a great pitch. But it was down and in and he was able to hit it into left center. Usually that ball gets pulled down the line and it gets hooked a little. …

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