Lester tips cap to Tigers, ready to move on

Lester tips cap to Tigers, ready to move on

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon has said Wrigley Field can be the biggest ballpark in the world when the wind is blowing in. But on Wednesday night, it was blowing out, and Jon Lester discovered the difference.

Lester served up seven runs on seven hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings in the Cubs' 15-8 loss to the Tigers. It was the left-hander's shortest outing since he went two innings April 17, 2012, while pitching for the Red Sox against the Rangers.

He gave up three home runs for the first time this season, including one to Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris, who had not had a professional at-bat before facing Lester. It's part of a bad trend. Chicago starters have a 13.06 ERA in the last three starts, and have given up at least three homers in three straight games for the first time since May 29-30, 1956.

"You try to step back and come up with answers and come up with reasons," Lester said. "I want to say I threw the ball down the middle, but there were some good pitches made tonight that got hit. I threw a 1-1 fastball to a pitcher, he squares it up -- [you] tip your hat.

"I threw a two-seamer down and away to Nick Castellanos and he hits it out to right [in the second]," Lester said. "I throw an 0-0 curveball to the same guy -- I think I can go back two years, and that's the first first-pitch curveball hit, let alone homer, I've given up."

Castellanos connected on that curve in the third for a grand slam, which opened a 7-0 Detroit lead.

Lester had been on a roll with a 4-0 record in his five previous starts. He'd given up eight runs over 35 1/3 innings in that stretch, and the Tigers nearly matched that run total. He now has a 6.05 ERA against Detroit in his career, his worst against any team he's faced more than once.

"They've obviously been a thorn in my side for a long time," Lester said. "That being said, I've still got to figure out a way to get deeper in that game, especially with how things transpired last night."

What happened Tuesday was a three-inning outing by starter Jason Hammel plus a lengthy rain delay that kept the bullpen busy. On Wednesday, Maddon called on outfielder Chris Denorfia to get the final out in the ninth.

"Jonny was not on top of his game, but he's fine," Maddon said of Lester. "I have no concerns whatsoever."

A notice in the Cubs' clubhouse proclaimed this is "American Legion week." That means the clubhouse will be closed until 3 p.m. CT, with no one allowed in early. Maddon wants players to get their rest, relax, then show up and play.

Lester will be in the video room as soon as he can.

"Tomorrow, we'll come back and look at it and evaluate it and make sure I'm not going crazy," Lester said, "and at the same time, flush it down the drain, and get back to work."

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.