No-hit stuff for Cubs ace Jon Lester – at plate – leads to milestone night

SHARE No-hit stuff for Cubs ace Jon Lester – at plate – leads to milestone night

PHOENIX – Jon Lester didn’t get the win last night in Arizona.

And while it might not sound like news, the bigger story was that he didn’t get a hit, either.

Lester, the Cubs’ big-money ace, tapped to the pitcher and struck out twice against a pair of Diamondbacks pitchers – reaching 57 career at-bats without a hit.

That ties San Diego Padres pitcher Joey Hamilton (1994-95) and San Francisco Giants pitcher Ron Herbel (1964-65) for most hitless at-bats to start a career. Lester’s next scheduled start comes Wednesday against Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

Lester looked more the part of the $155 million free agent while pitching Friday night, going seven strong innings without getting a decision in the extra-inning game.

Lester, who had won all four previous starts in May, gave up five hits and single runs in the first and fifth. He struck out four, didn’t walk a batter until his final inning and takes a 1.85 May ERA into the Scherzer showdown.

“I think truly every outing he has gotten better,” manager Joe Maddon said even before the game. “The biggest thing that we’re waiting on is the first hit right now. That will truly get the monkey off his back.”

Whether Lester (0-for-21 with 12 strikeouts as a Cub) plans to load up on extra batting practice the next five days is unclear.

What is clear is that Maddon has almost as many positive things to say about Lester’s bat as his All-Star left arm.

“Jonny’s got a good swing,” Maddon said. “I’ll defend his hack. From a mechanical perspective, he’s got a good hack. It just hasn’t happened yet.

“Heads up when it does. His first hit could go over the wall, it really could.”

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