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Cubs’ Jon Lester makes strong return in 2-1 loss; Brandon Morrow weeks away

Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field on April 25, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jon Lester and the Cubs lost Thursday — 2-1 to the Dodgers in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field — but it felt more like a win.

The Cubs got their ace back, with Lester going five strong innings, allowing only one run, after not pitching since April 8 because of a strained left hamstring. He left the game after only 79 pitches — with his turn in the batting order coming up and no sensible reason to risk letting him run the bases — but continued the starting rotation’s run of impressive outings. Cubs starters have a combined 1.80 ERA over the last 12 games.

“Felt fine,” Lester said. “Felt normal. It’s just good to be back out. I’m tired of being in the clubhouse and not doing anything. [I felt] kind of like a caged animal for a couple days there, or a couple weeks.”

Since staggering out of the gate with eight losses in their first 11 games, the Cubs have won nine of 12 and are 4-0-1 in their last five series.

“It doesn’t matter if we started out 10-0 — that’s behind us,” outfielder Jason Heyward said. “That’s the way we look at it.”

Maybe Morrow

The Dodgers series came and went without Brandon Morrow getting to pitch against his former team, but that hardly matters. Will the reliever, who’s still rehabbing from offseason elbow surgery, pitch again in the near future? How about the long-term future?

Unfortunately, those are the questions we’re left with when it comes to the power right-hander, who hasn’t been able to make his mark since signing with the Cubs before the 2018 season to be their closer.

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“We’re still in the diagnostic stage with him at this point,” team president Theo Epstein said. “He has undergone some tests, we have the results of some of them — not all of them — but, yes, we think that he’s going to resume pitching at some point. Not in the matter of a week or two, but I think after that point he’ll get throwing again and get back on the mound.”

Thief in the night

Longtime Cubs reliever Pedro Strop has great love for Chicago, but not for whoever stole his 2018 Genesis G90 from the parking lot of his apartment building. He discovered his car missing before Wednesday’s 7-6 victory, in which he got the save. A day later, the incident remained under police investigation.

“Right now, I’m just like you guys,” Strop said. “I don’t know anything.”

Hoerner OK

Top Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner was progressing nicely two days after taking a pitch off the hand and wrist while playing for Class AA Tennessee.

“It was a scare,” Epstein said, “but the initial test came back that it was just a [bruise].”