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Lester went 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts against the Pirates last season to continue a pattern of success. He is 12-6 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 career starts versus Pittsburgh.
Lester has easily handled right fielder Gregory Polanco (2-for-16, eight strikeouts) but has struggled with second baseman Adam Frazier (6-for-11, two doubles).
The Cubs hit four total homers while winning the first two games of the series. Ian Happ and Javier Baez hit solo homers, and Kyle Schwarber smacked a two-run blast as Chicago recorded a 4-3 win on Saturday for its fifth victory in the past six games.
Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant was scratched from the lineup shortly before Saturday’s game due to gastrointestinal issues, and he appears doubtful at best for the series finale.
“Got to run through standard protocols, just making sure with everything we got going on that he’s feeling alright,” Cubs manager David Ross said after Saturday’s game. “We’ll get him tested (for COVID-19) just as a precaution tomorrow morning.”
The Pirates have lost three straight games but are receiving unexpected power from third baseman Colin Moran. He slugged a two-run homer in the ninth inning on Saturday to take over the major league homer lead with five.
Pittsburgh added another run later in the frame but fell short of recovering from a 4-0 deficit.
“This group doesn’t quit,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters afterward. “We continue to have good (at-bats) and have a chance to win the game late.”