Lester gets no-decision despite effective start

During stretch of sub-.500 opponents, Cubs' ace won't adjust based on record

Lester gets no-decision despite effective start

CHICAGO -- Jon Lester didn't look at the Phillies' record before he took the mound on Friday, which was Day 8 of the Cubs' 17-game stretch against sub-.500 teams. That doesn't matter to the left-hander.

"They're still big leaguers," Lester said. "They're still the best players in the planet. They're there for a reason. They haven't quit, you saw that today."

The Phillies rallied from a 3-2 deficit to tie the game in the ninth and then pulled ahead in the 10th on Jeff Francoeur's two-run homer in the Cubs' 5-3 loss. Lester was in line for the win, but instead, he's 1-3 with a 2.05 ERA in his last eight starts. And the Cubs now are 4-4 against teams which, on paper, they should beat.

"I've been on that side before -- [playing on a] last-place team, and these last two and a half months [stink]," Lester said. "You're in last place, it's hot, and it seems like everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Your plane breaks down or your hotel room's not ready -- it all seems to come to a head.

"We still have to play good baseball, regardless of who we're playing. You have to have that invisible-opponent mentality of where they are in the standings. You have to take each day that we have to win today. We played good baseball today. They just beat us."

The Cubs began the day in possession of the second National League Wild Card spot, and there have been rumors swirling that the team is looking to add more pitching. What would it mean if they added another starter?

"I think we're pretty darn good right now," Lester said. "Having an addition would be a shot in the arm to maybe take some pressure off the other four guys, but I don't think we can worry about that right now. ... If Theo and those guys decide that's what we need, then great. If they decide we're going to stand pat, great."

Lester was referring to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who has said the team is pursuing more pitching depth. However, what's hurting the Cubs lately has been a collective offensive funk. Chicago ranked 13th in the NL in batting average in July, and it went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Friday.

"They're figuring it out," Lester said of the Cubs' rookies. "I don't think you can talk about a full season until you play a full season. ... Those guys are learning, and we need them to learn."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.