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Brewers’ Jean Segura dives back safely as Jon Lester’s errant pickoff throw gets by first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Segura took second on the play and then stole third -- the first of a season-high five steals for the Brewers.

Brewers run wild on Jon Lester as throwing problems resurface for Cub pitcher

SHARE Brewers run wild on Jon Lester as throwing problems resurface for Cub pitcher
SHARE Brewers run wild on Jon Lester as throwing problems resurface for Cub pitcher

Jon Lester didn’t even need to hear the direct question after the game.

“We all know what’s going on here,” said the Cubs’ big-money starter Thursday after he survived a third-inning merry-go-round of Brewers base runners to get through six innings for his fourth straight victory.

Lester (8-8) has been on a roll that has made him look like one of the best starters in the National League since the start of July (1.92 ERA) – underscoring the reason the Cubs invested $155 million in him over six years.

But then came that yips thing again early in Thursday’s start when the Brewers pushed the running game, and Lester chanced his first throw to first since an April 13 airmail error on national TV – and made it two errors in a row, as the ball sailed to first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s right and allowed Jean Segura to take second with one out.

“I’ve just got to do a better job,” Lester said. “I tried to pick over today. I felt good about it. It wasn’t a bad, terrible throw. Better than the last one.”

It was the third throw to a base for Lester this season after going nearly two years without one (two came during the same at-bat in that April game against the Reds).

Segura immediately stole third, while Lester still held the ball, and eventually scored on a single by Ryan Braun – who quickly stole second and then third. Khris Davis then walked and immediately stole second.

Lester, who opened that inning by fielding a bunt and bouncing a routine throw to Rizzo for the first out, escaped further damage in the inning.

He didn’t allow a base runner in the fourth. And after a one-out double in the fifth, catcher David Ross bailed him out by throwing out Segura trying again to steal third. The Brewers added a fifth steal against Lester in the sixth.

“Don’t underestimate the importance of what Rossy did out there today,” said manager Joe Maddon, who shrugged off the Lester throwing issue that could become magnified if the Cubs get into the National League playoffs.

“I’m really not worried or concerned about it, right now,” Maddon said. “I thought Milwaukee’s game plan was a good one but we were still able to keep them down.”

In the American League wild-card game last year for Oakland, Lester gave up three of the Kansas City Royals’ six steals in that game, a Royals victory.

“With him, it’s just about getting the hitters out. He could still punch a guy out if he gets in scoring position,” Maddon said. “To be able to maintain that focus between him and home plate is the most important thing. So I don’t want to make a big deal about the other side of it.”

Lester, who has allowed a major-league high 35 steals, said he plans to keep working on his throws to bases and has no intention of abandoning that aspect of the game. Maddon said he’s fine with whatever Lester wants to do.

“There’s times that it could be an issue or be bothersome,” Maddon said. “But overall, he’s able to keep low numbers in spite of not wanting to throw over to first base. So I have no qualms about that.”

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