In World of hurt, Cubs turn to Lester

Game 5 starter no stranger to big October moments

October 29th, 2016

CHICAGO -- If anyone in the Cubs' clubhouse knows what it is like to come back from this kind of deficit, it is . He was a member of the 2007 Red Sox, who overcame a 3-1 series hole in the American League Championship Series against the Indians.

Now the Cubs are counting on Lester to start their own comeback. With Chicago trailing 3-1 in the World Series after a 7-2 loss Saturday, Lester takes the mound Sunday night in Game 5 at Wrigley Field to try to keep the Cubs alive. will start on short rest for Cleveland.

"That's our ace," catcher said. "Obviously, that's the guy you want to have in this situation. He's the perfect guy that we need right there."

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Lester was not sharp from the beginning of his outing in Game 1, but he was bothered most by how many free baserunners he surrendered -- three walks and a hit batsman. The Indians took advantage to score twice in the first inning, which allowed to settle in and dominate the Cubs. Lester limited the damage for the rest of his start before he was removed with two outs in the sixth after allowing three runs on six hits.

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"It's the walks and the hit-by-pitch that really haunt me in that first inning," the left-hander said. "You can't give up free baserunners, especially this time of year. You just give them more opportunities to see you. You have to make more pitches. You may have to show your hand a little bit earlier in what you're trying to do to guys."

Still, the veteran's track record in the Fall Classic has been impressive, with a 1.35 ERA in four career World Series starts. Only six of the 40 teams who have fallen behind 3-1 in the World Series have come back to win the Series, so Chicago will need that kind of effort from Lester.

"To have a guy that's been-there, done-that kind of a guy, and been very successful, been a World Series champion, he knows what the feeling is like, he knows what it takes," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's definitely comforting to the rest of the group for [Sunday]."

Watching from afar, Lester has been impressed by the Indians' grit and their ability to make it to this point despite injuries to so many key players. He got a firsthand experience at what has made the Tribe so tough to beat this postseason.

"Nothing changes," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who managed that 2007 Red Sox team. "We're going to show up tomorrow. The only thing that changes is we'll pack our bags, because we're going to go home one way or the other, and we'll show up and try to beat a really good pitcher tomorrow, and that's what we always do. Nothing needs to change."