Jon Lester returns after being rained out to host the defending champions


Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon will send veteran southpaw Jon Lester back to the mound to host the defending World Series champions after his outing on Monday was cut short due to heavy rain while visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Lester (6-8, 3.26 ERA) pitched well in the rain opposite Francisco Liriano, but nothing was recorded since it was later postponed. Both starters were pulled after the two-hour delay resulting in their bullpen having to battle it out in between storms.

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The Cubs (59-48) were riding a five-game winning streak after sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers this past weekend but were still able to extend it to six games after Jake Arrieta worked a gem the very next day. Jon has the opportunity to do the same while helping his club increase their lead over the Giants (59-49) in the N.L. Wild Card race.

With the Pirates taking on the Dodgers starting today, Chicago needs to step it up a notch and make sure that they walk away with at least the next two in hopes of the Bucs tanking their series. They only trail Pittsburgh by three games.

Starting opposite Lester will be 38-year-old Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong (7-7, 4.16 ERA) hasn’t won a game since July 17 when he made a two-inning relief appearance while visiting the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In fact, this is his first start since July 11 – so a fresh arm who hasn’t worked as many outings could be dangerous if Chicago’s offense is a bit lazy today.

So far this month he’s allowed only two earned runs on four hits including a big fly against both the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

First pitch is slated for 3:05 p.m. central time and will air live on WGN, WBBM 780.

Here’s a look at this afternoon’s starting lineup’s:

Next: MM: Cubs claim Game 1 over Giants Thursday night