Rockies-Cubs Preview

The first time Jon Lester pitched against Colorado, he handed the ball to Terry Francona with a shutout going in the sixth inning. His former team celebrated its second World Series in four seasons a few innings later.

He can now help the Chicago Cubs to a lesser series win Sunday against the Rockies at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs (9-2) evened the three-game series with Saturday's 6-2 win - more than enough support for reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. With another victory, this group will join its 1876, 1879-80, 1888, 1907, 1934 and 1969 clubs in reaching 10 wins in 12 games or fewer.

Arrieta gets most of the attention, but the No. 2 starter hasn't been bad, either.

Including that Game 4 clincher in 2007, Lester (1-0, 2.77 ERA) is 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies.

More recently, the left-hander is coming off a no-decision in Monday's 5-3 home win over Cincinnati after surrendering three runs and five hits in six innings before the Cubs scored five in the seventh and eighth.

"The biggest thing is I kept us in close enough to come back and win," Lester told MLB's official website.

That wasn't happening at this point last year. Lester's ERA through two starts in his first season with the Cubs (7.84) was nearly three times what it is now. Things gradually improved, and he's 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA in eight regular-season starts since the beginning of September.

At the plate Saturday, Chicago got back-to-back home runs from Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler in the fourth inning before Dexter Fowler connected on a three-run shot in the seventh. The leadoff hitter and former Colorado center fielder has reached base in every game this season and is batting .417 after not signing on for a second season in Chicago until the end of February.

With Kyle Schwarber out for the season with a torn ACL, the signing is looking bigger and bigger for the Cubs outfield. In his last seven games against his former team, Fowler has a .581 on-base percentage with three homers and eight RBIs.

For Colorado (6-5), Trevor Story has cooled off some at 1 for 9 in the series but Carlos Gonzalez has not. Saturday's scoring came on his two-run homer, and the right fielder has hit safely in every game as part of a career-best 21-game hitting streak. He's batting .405 on it with a 1.188 OPS.

The Cubs are 10-5 in the series since the start of 2014, and another victory will give Chicago seven straight series wins over Colorado. The Rockies are trying to take their first series at Wrigley since 2011.

Lester is up against Tyler Chatwood, who regressed from a promising debut to give up five runs and 11 hits in six innings of Tuesday's 7-2 home loss to San Francisco.

Chatwood (1-1, 4.38) served up a pair of two-run homers, though his manager still saw some promise. The right-hander is making his third start back after missing most of 2014 and all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery for the second time.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Walt Weiss said. "A couple of two-run homers. He certainly kept us in the game and gave us a chance."

He beat the Cubs with one earned run allowed in six innings in 2013, but Rizzo was 2 for 3 with a homer against him.

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