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Cubs’ Jon Lester calls 10-run first inning vs. Pirates ’embarrassing’

Hours after he left the shortest outing of his career Sunday, Jon Lester looked as stunned as when he walked off the mound.

Never in his 12-year career had the three-time World Series champ and four-time All-Star failed to pitch at least four innings, let alone fail to get out of the first.

By the time Lester (5-6) exited after only two outs, the Pirates had scored 10 times, handing the World Series champs a bitter end to a bitter first half with a 14-3 rout.

“I don’t know what to say,” Lester said. “It’s embarrassing.

Jon Lester walks off the field after being pulled in the first inning Sunday against the Pirates. He gave up 10 runs, four earned. | Nam Y. Huh/AP

“There’s never a good time to have a bad start. The second pitch of the game I thought I threw well, and they hit a laser.’’

The Pirates had six hits off Lester and drew three walks, but two errors in the inning, by Kris Bryant at third and Willson Contreras behind the plate, were as damaging.

Lester was charged with four earned runs, two on homers (Francisco Cervelli’s grand slam and Andrew McCutchen’s solo shot). He ended a personal streak of 101 consecutive starts with at least one strikeout.

“Nothing I can say can justify or give you a reason behind today,” he said.

Manager Joe Maddon said it was “unbelievable” seeing Lester’s performance.

The game dropped the Cubs to 43-45 going into the All-Star break. They were 53-35 at the break last year.

Maddon tried to find silver linings in the performances of rookie catcher Victor Caratini (doubled for first major-league hit; three hits overall), outfielder Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-2) and relievers Mike Montgomery, Dylan Floro and Eddie Butler, who held the Pirates to four runs in 8⅓ innings.

“We’re not happy,” Maddon said of the first half more than the game. “Of course our guys are frustrated, but that’s normal human nature. But nobody’s quitting or giving up.

“We have to start getting better starting pitching and get our situational hitting back in order.”

The 10-run first was the first allowed by the Cubs since Aug. 7, 1998, at St. Louis and marked only the seventh 10-run first in franchise history.

Monty will start second half

Montgomery will start Friday in Baltimore when the season resumes. The rest of the rotation will be determined after Kyle Hendricks pitches Monday for Class AA Tennessee in his rehab from tendinitis in his right hand.

Ross returns to field

Retired catcher and former Cub David Ross announced he’ll play for the Kansas Stars, an independent team of former major-leaguers. They’ll being play in the National Baseball Congress World Series on July 29 in Wichita.

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.


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