No. 5: September 15, 2015, Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates
It was games like these for which the Chicago Cubs had signed Jon Lester: To be the stopper when the team was bleeding. Though they were in command of the second National League Wild Card spot at the time, the team had lost three in a row, including the first game of this doubleheader. The Cubs still had a chance to catch the division-rival Pirates for the first Wild Card spot, but they had to win this game if they had any chance of doing so.
In the first inning, Anthony Rizzo drove in Austin Jackson to make it 1-0 Cubs. It stayed that way until the fifth when the Cubs rallied for another run – an RBI double from Dexter Fowler – that was helped set up with a bunt from Lester. The Cubs had second and third with nobody out and the 2-3-4 hitters coming up, but they were unable to get any more runs across in that inning – or for the rest of the game.
Thankfully, that was all Lester needed. In the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates rallied to get runners on first and third with nobody out. On perhaps his most important pitch of the game, on a 3-1 count, he got Mike Morse to ground into a double play. A run scored, but that’s all the Pirates would get. After a scoreless eighth, Lester retired the side on just six pitches in the ninth to finish off his first complete game with the Cubs. His nine strikeouts were also a season-high.
As for the 2015 postseason, Lester would make two starts: one against St. Louis in the NLDS and one against the Mets in the NLCS. Both were Cubs losses.