Second-inning meltdown by Lester sinks Cubs


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Chicago's Jon Lester imploded in the second inning to waste an otherwise quality start.
Chicago's Jon Lester imploded in the second inning to waste an otherwise quality start.

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs' starting rotation has been shockingly inept in the early innings of games thus far this season, placing the Cubs into far too many insurmountable jams. Chicago's starters have also been atrocious in limiting home-run production, giving up far too many of them on a far too regular basis. In the Cubs' Thursday night loss to the Colorado Rockies, both of those trends were on full display, as veteran Chicago starter Jon Lester was victimized by a three-run homer in the second inning and was ultimately outdone by young Colorado starter Tyler Chatwood en route to a 4-1 Rockies victory over the North Siders.

This could easily be chalked up as the most sickening loss of the season thus far for the Cubs, as a two-out rally to beat all two-out rallies in the second inning propelled the Rockies to a win. In the bottom of the first, Chicago struck first, with third baseman Kris Bryant skying a Chatwood fastball over the wall in center field. His 14th homer of the year, Bryant's blast gave the Cubs an early 1-0 lead that would not last very long.

In the top half of the second, Lester began the inning favorably, striking out the first two batters looking. However, after a two-out infield single, the Rockies quickly picked up steam while Lester quickly came unglued. With a runner on first and two outs, Lester allowed Chatwood to hit a single, putting runners on first and second.

Thereafter, leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon produced for the Rockies, cranking a a double to left that scored a run and knotted the game up at one. Blackmon finished 2-3 with one walk, one run and one RBI. Star Colorado second baseman D.J. LeMahieu next stepped up to the plate, and he gave the Rockies a commanding lead with one swing of his bat. Hitting a three-run homer to right-center, LeMahieu, who is not typically known for his power, slugged just his third homer of the season. And that homer proved to be the winning hit of the night for the Rockies, putting them up 4-1 for good.

The Cubs were listless in attempting to come back, advancing only one runner into scoring position following the four-run second inning by the Rockies. Collecting a meager five hits, the Cubs reverted back to their impotent offensive ways of late May.

Colorado was not much at better at the dish, though, striking out nine times and accruing a mediocre six hits. In fact, minus his woeful second inning, Lester actually produced a quality start in his five innings on the mound. He gave up zero runs and one hit outside of the second inning, striking out five in the process. However, Lester's four-run, six-hit stat line saw him earn the loss to drop to 3-4 overall with a dismal 4.13 ERA to his name.

With the exception of the Bryant long ball, the Cubs failed to garner any extra-base hits in their loss. Chatwood, who did an excellent job of limiting Chicago's plate production, earned the win for his efforts, moving to 6-7 on the year. The Cubs (30-29) have now lost two straight after winning five in a row, so they will look to rebound in the second game of this four-game series at Wrigley Field when they take on the Rockies (39-23) tomorrow afternoon. The first pitch is slated for 1:20 PM CST.

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