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Lester pads postseason resume with 9-K gem

Maddon lifts lefty for pinch-hitter earlier than he would have liked
October 3, 2018

CHICAGO -- Cubs lefty Jonathan Lester was the perfect choice to start against the Rockies in Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game. The trouble is, he didn't get any offensive support as the North Siders' season ended with a 2-1 loss in 13 innings at Wrigley Field.Because of that

CHICAGO -- Cubs lefty Jonathan Lester was the perfect choice to start against the Rockies in Tuesday night's National League Wild Card Game. The trouble is, he didn't get any offensive support as the North Siders' season ended with a 2-1 loss in 13 innings at Wrigley Field.
Because of that lack of offense, the lefty's gem was cut short. With the Cubs trailing, 1-0, and in dire need of an offensive boost, Lester was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning having thrown only 86 pitches.
"It's obviously disappointing," Lester said. "I feel we should've won that game. That's the unfortunate part about this Wild Card Game, but at the same time, that's what makes this Wild Card Game so unique."
:: NL Wild Card Game schedule and results ::
Lester gave up a run in the first inning on Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly, the first out of the game, but that was it as he struck out nine over six innings.
The 34-year-old roared after he fanned Matthew Holliday for his final strikeout of the night. The nine strikeouts tied his season high (Sept. 15) and also matched a postseason career high (Game 1 against the Cardinals in the 2015 NL Division Series).
"I didn't want to take Jon out," manager Joe Maddon said. "Jon was good to go. He was definitely good to go and [pinch-hitter Ian] Happ starts out the inning and we put ourselves in a position possibly to score, and it went away. But Jonny had a lot left in the tank, a lot."

With the win-or-go-home element of the NL Wild Card Game, Maddon had starters Cole Hamels and Kyle Hendricks in the bullpen and called on both to pitch in relief.
"There's a lot of platitudes to be spread around. There's a lot of good stuff," Maddon said. "We just did not hit like we think we're capable of, otherwise some pretty good baseball."

Lester now has 133 career postseason strikeouts, eighth-most in Major League history.
"I feel we played really good baseball tonight," Lester said. "The pitchers threw the hell out of the ball, defense played great. Sometimes you just get beat. Unfortunately, we got beat tonight."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.