Chicago Cubs: Win streak snapped at seven as Jon Lester struggles
By Jake Misener
Jon Lester struggled badly early and the offense fell flat as the Chicago Cubs fell by an 8-1 final Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Rays on the road.
The Chicago Cubs entered the series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays looking for an eighth-straight win. But, by the middle innings, it quickly became clear that wasn’t going to happen.
Chicago (84-67) handed the ball to veteran left-hander Jon Lester. After allowing a first-inning blast to Steven Souza Jr., he struggled more in the second. Willson Ramos singled to lead off the inning. After an Adeiny Hechavarria fielder’s choice, the Tampa infielder stole second.
A walk to Cesar Puello put men on first and second for Brad Miller, who singled to score Hechavarria. Two more singles – one from Peter Bourjos and the other from Kevin Kiermaier – made it a 4-0 game early.
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Lester tied a season-high, allowing seven earned runs. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings, surrendering seven hits and walking three. The biggest sign he wasn’t himself? He failed to strike out a single Rays batter.
With the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, catcher Wilson Ramos came through. He drove a ball through the right side, scoring a pair of runs. A passed ball later in the inning allowed Logan Morrison to score from third to make it a 7-0 contest.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the top of the eighth when Jon Jay singled to score Mike Freeman. As a team, Chicago went a horrendous 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on the night. Only Jay managed more than one hit in the lopsided loss.
Hats off to Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell. The 24-year-old southpaw turned in seven shutout innings of two-hit ball to lead the Rays to a win and series split.
Next: Arrieta to return in opener against Milwaukee
Chicago opens a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night.
Jake Arrieta (14-9, 3.48) makes his return from the disabled list opposite Zach Davies(17-9, 3.98).