ATLANTA -- When the Cubs look at the National League leaderboard on Monday, all five of their starting pitchers will be ranked in the top 16 in ERA."That's pretty cool," Jon Lester said after improving to 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA in Sunday's 13-2 win over the Braves. "We're on
ATLANTA -- When the Cubs look at the National League leaderboard on Monday, all five of their starting pitchers will be ranked in the top 16 in ERA.
"That's pretty cool," Jon Lester said after improving to 8-3 with a 1.89 ERA in Sunday's 13-2 win over the Braves. "We're on a good run."
That's an understatement. The Cubs are 43-18 heading into a rematch against the NL East-leading Nationals, and it's their best start since the 1907 team opened 47-14.
Sunday's final score was lopsided, but the Cubs padded the lead with a six-run eighth, and Lester had to shrug off four early Cubs errors.
"He was outstanding -- he never tired, he was good at the end," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's pitching with a lot of confidence now, and he and [catcher David Ross] are fun to watch."
Lester has won his last four starts, and in his last three, he has not walked a batter over 24 innings while striking out 26 and giving up one earned run. It's the first time the left-hander has done that in his career.
"It means we're making them work to get on base," Lester said of not issuing any free passes. "I've been pretty fortunate. The last three starts have been against some pretty aggressive teams, and we've been able to use that in our favor."
His last three wins have come against the Dodgers, Phillies and Braves. In his last four outings -- all wins -- he has given up two earned runs over 30 1/3 innings for a 0.59 ERA.
Lester isn't the only one on a roll. Jake Arrieta has a 1.86 ERA, Jason Hammel is at 2.36, John Lackey 2.63 and Kyle Hendricks 2.90. The Cubs have relied on the five.
"It's been fun to be a part of," Lester said. "The pace we're on is pretty crazy. Hopefully, we can stay even keel with it and keep going."
Ross has worked with his share of talented pitching staffs, including some in Atlanta during his four seasons with the Braves, but he doesn't like to compare the current Cubs to anyone else.
"I feel we have a chance every time we step on the field because of those guys," Ross said of the starters. "It's a phenomenal group of guys. They work their tails off, and they're trying to compete with one another as well as the other team. It's fun to watch and fun to be a part of as a catcher, for sure."
The Cubs made three errors on Saturday, and another three in the first two innings on Sunday. Lester ignored them.
"My job is to pick them up," the lefty said. "They pick me up more times than not with diving plays and unreal stuff they do out there for all of us. It's just part of the game, and as a pitcher, you have to just try to pick those guys up and make it to where it doesn't matter, and we were able to do that."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.