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Lester confident he will make next start

Cubs lefty exited start in 6th inning with back spasms
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Jon Lester still felt some discomfort in his back on Tuesday but said he didn't expect to miss any time.

Lester had to leave Monday night's start against the Brewers after 5 2/3 innings because of back spasms. Asked if he woke up with any pain on Tuesday, Lester made light of the situation.

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CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Jon Lester still felt some discomfort in his back on Tuesday but said he didn't expect to miss any time.

Lester had to leave Monday night's start against the Brewers after 5 2/3 innings because of back spasms. Asked if he woke up with any pain on Tuesday, Lester made light of the situation.

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"I did wake up, yes," he said. "I didn't feel great. I got up out of the bed. I made it to my son's dentist appointment. He had to get two cavities filled. Bad parenting."

The Cubs named Mike Montgomery as the starter for Thursday's makeup game against the Nationals in Washington. Cole Hamels will start Friday in the series opener against the Reds and be followed by Lester.

"I don't know what the schedule is," Lester said Tuesday. "Obviously, Thursday changes everything. If we play Thursday, we have to use a pitcher that day. If we don't, we'll adjust. ... I don't imagine missing any time."

The Cubs do have extra arms available since rosters expanded and could give Alec Mills, Jaime Garcia or Tyler Chatwood a start if Lester needed more time.

Counting on Carl
How key is Carl Edwards Jr. to the Cubs' postseason success?

"Going into October, we're looking for a positive result," Maddon said about the reliever. "I can't imagine doing well in October without him. You've got to get the guy right."

On Monday night, Edwards was called on to replace Lester in the sixth. The game was tied, the Brewers had runners at second and third, and one scored on Edwards' first pitch to Orlando Arcia, which skipped away from catcher Willson Contreras for a wild pitch. That was all the Brewers needed in the 3-2 win.

"The stuff is great," Maddon said of Edwards. "We have to get him back over the plate consistently."

Video: MIL@CHC: Moustakas comes home on a wild pitch in 6th

What happened?

"It really wasn't too tough," Edwards said. "I probably just overthought that whole hitter. He's the No. 8 hitter. That's why I say I probably overthought the whole process instead of going out there and throwing my best to get him out instead of trying to be perfect."

What's been discouraging is the amount of walks by the right-hander, who has issued five over his last 1 2/3 innings in four outings. He has been able to get out of a funk like this before.

"I just went out there and eventually told myself I'm going to have fun and don't let the roller coaster keep rolling," Edwards said of how he deals with bad stretches. "It's got to stop one day."

With Brandon Morrow sidelined because of a bone bruise on his right arm, the Cubs need someone to step up as the closer. Edwards was one of the candidates. Morrow is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

Zo on the go
Ben Zobrist began Tuesday third in the National League batting race at .314, right behind the Brewers' Christian Yelich (.315) and leader Scooter Gennett (.320).

"I'm not worried about that," Zobrist said. "I'm just really happy about how I feel at the plate. If I can keep having quality at-bats and finding a way to get hits, that's what we need now. It feels like it's been a tough stretch for us to face pitchers which will allow us to drive the ball, and when that's the case, it's tough to get hits."

Video: CHC@MIL: Zobrist plates Rizzo with a double to right

Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola and Max Scherzer haven't made it easy on Zobrist and the Cubs.

"It's like the playoffs," Zobrist said. "They're good teams we're facing."

Back pain for Schwarber
Kyle Schwarber was a decoy when he was on deck to pinch-hit on Monday in the seventh. He's been sidelined with back issues and was not available on Tuesday night.

"It's there and bothering him, but I think it's not going to be elongated," Maddon said.

Smyly looks to 2019
Drew Smyly was disappointed that he won't get the chance to pitch this season for the Cubs. The lefty has spent the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he had in July 2017.

"It would've been a stretch," Smyly said. "It's disappointing, for sure. I was hopeful all year I could do it. It would've been rushed if I came back. I just ran out of time. Things were going really well. When I was on the mound, I was in no pain and it was encouraging. It was a safe move [to shut it down]. I'll be ready to go full speed next year and look forward to that."

Smyly, who signed a two-year contract with the Cubs, will be a candidate for the 2019 rotation.

"I look forward to not having anything holding me back," he said of next year.

Worth noting
The game on Sept. 29 against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field will start at 12:05 p.m. CT. The game had previously been listed as "TBD" but has been selected for a national telecast by FOX.

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

Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester