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He’s back: Lackey returns to full-strength cranky after 2-1 loss

Cubs pitcher John Lackey not happy after allowing a "bandbox" shot to rookie Alex Bregman in the third.

HOUSTON — John Lackey, the World Series veteran signed to approximate the postseason success he had with two previous teams, showed several signs Saturday that he might be ready for the assignment after a recent stretch on the disabled list.

In his second start since a sore shoulder put him on the DL, Lackey allowed just two runs in six innings Saturday in Houston, rebounding from a high pitch count early to roll through the final three innings of his start.

It didn’t prevent another low-scoring loss, this time 2-1, for Lackey (9-8), who for the ninth time this season had zero or one run of support while in the game.

“It was good. His stuff was equally as good as last time, and went through since and we stretched him out by one inning and 15 pitches,” manager Joe Maddon said of the 89-pitch outing.

A few choice words for the home plate ump and angry gestures in the second and the two-run third suggested Lackey was back to normal.

And the point was underscored with his terse reaction to postgame questions such as the innocuous opener: “Thoughts on your outing, John?”

Lackey: “Ask questions.”

As for said outing, he considered Alex Bregman’s home run a “bandbox” shot and lamented the fact that a pair of bunts – one for a hit and another a squeeze play for an RBI – were the difference.

“You’d like that not to cost you a game,” he said.

On the shoulder two starts back: “I could have continued. But probably the next time I’ll be full-go and get it going. The jump in pitches was about where they wanted to be today.”

As for whether he still felt anything in the shoulder: “You serious? I’ve been pitching for 15 years. I’ve been feeling something for 10 years.”

Yep. He’s back.