Jon Lester’s last start at Wrigley Field was always going to be memorable.
It just wasn’t expected to be in a Cardinals uniform as St. Louis set a franchise-record for its longest winning streak while getting a step closer to clinching a playoff spot.
Lester made his second start at Wrigley on Saturday since leaving the Cubs as a free agent last winter.
He received a no-decision as the Cardinals rallied late to beat the Cubs for their 15th straight win — the longest winning streak in franchise history. The Cardinals’ magic number to clinch a wild-card spot is three.
It’s unclear whether Lester will pitch in 2022. He has been noncommittal this season when asked.
Whether Saturday turns out to be his last outing at the Friendly Confines, it felt familiar. Lester competed and kept the Cardinals in the game.
“That's always what Jon does,” Cubs outfielder Ian Happ said.
Lester allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings. He needed only six pitches to complete a 1-2-3 first inning. The Cubs made him work over his final four frames, pushing his pitch count to 96.
“He’s a little bit of a different guy now with Yadi [Molina] behind the plate, a little bit of a different sequence, a lot more changeups, doing a good job of picking,” Happ said.
“He always has been able to get that outside corner-angled heater called for a strike, and now he's playing the changeup off that really nice. He looked good out there.”
Lester’s former personal catcher, Willson Contreras, went 2-for-3 against him with a pair of RBIs. It's Contreras' second big game against his former battery mate. He went 2-for-3 off Lester when he returned to Wrigley with the Nationals in May.
The Cubs beat Washington that day, and although they were on the losing end Saturday, Lester being back at Wrigley was a welcome sight.
"It's always nice to see Jonny," manager David Ross said. "I always like to see him — not really in that uniform — but I like seeing him nonetheless.
"Watching him take the bump in any capacity, whether I’m in the other dugout or sitting in the stands or being able to be on his team or behind the plate, it's fun to watch him pitch."