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Chicago Cubs Recap: Jon Lester’s early struggles spell doom in finale

Apr 26, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester (34) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester (34) delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aiming for a series sweep Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs fell short against the Pittsburgh Pirates after Jon Lester struggled in the first two innings.

Right out of the gates, Chicago Cubs left-hander Jon Lester struggled to find the zone, surrendering half-a-dozen hits to the first 11 hits. Despite a late rally, the team fell short, dropping Wednesday’s finale to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 6-5 final.

Speedster Josh Harrison led things off with a solo blast, and a two-out double off the bat of Francisco Cervelli staked Tyler Glasnow to an early two-run advantage. The Pirates’ young right-hander danced in and out of trouble all night, including the top of the first when the Cubs left the bases loaded without scoring.

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Chicago (12-9) got a run back in the top of the second when Anthony Rizzo got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. But, as soon as it appeared as if the Cubs were poised to even things up, the wheels came off.

Josh Bell led things off with a single, then came around to score on a Phil Gosselin double. After Lester stepped off and initiated a run-down, a Willson Contreras error allowed another run to score.

Before it was all said and done, Pittsburgh scored three runs, extending its early lead to 5-1.

Cubs’ ace remains winless in 2017

Lester (0-1, 3.68 ERA) remains winless on the year – after tying a career-high with 19 wins last season. Despite a high pitch count, the southpaw worked into the sixth inning.

He allowed five earned, a new season-high, on 10 hits. The lefty struck out five and walked two. After the first two innings, he put up three scoreless before giving way to the bullpen.

Offense battles back, comes up short

The co-founders of Bryzzo Souvenir Co. teamed up in the fourth to plate a pair of runs. Kris Bryant doubled to left, scoring Jon Jay in the fourth. Anthony Rizzo followed with a line-drive single, cutting the Pittsburgh edge to 5-3.

Chicago’s slugging first baseman accounted for two more runs in the eighth, connecting on his fifth homer of the season.

Next: Healthy Heyward ready to do his part on the North Side

What’s Next:

Following Wednesday’s series finale in the Steel City, the Cubs travel to Boston. In a historic matchup at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Cubs open a series Friday night.

Jake Arrieta takes the ball for Chicago and Boston’s starter is TBD

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