Manager Joe Maddon went deep into his bag of tricks to steal one from the Seattle Mariners.
Lester drove in Jason Heyward with a two-strike squeeze bunt in the 12th inning, and the Cubs overcame a six-run deficit on the way to a wild 7-6 victory over the Mariners on Sunday night.
"I just kept telling myself `Don't be late to square around," Lester said. "That's one thing over the last year that I've kind of picked up on on bunting, and it's helped me just be a little more consistent."
Heyward sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double against Cody Martin (1-1). He advanced on Willson Contreras' fly ball to center before Lester, hitting for Hector Rondon (2-2), managed to get a safety squeeze down right in front of the plate.
Heyward made it home with a headfirst slide, sparking a frenzied celebration at Wrigley Field.
"Joe does it again," Lester said. "You kind of sit there sometimes and scratch your head and it seems to always kind of work out."
The Cubs trailed 6-3 before they pushed across three runs in the ninth against Steve Cishek, handing the sidewinding right-hander his sixth blown save in 31 opportunities. Addison Russell hit an RBI single and Contreras drove in another run when he hustled down the line to beat out a potential double-play grounder.
With two outs and runners on the corners, Cishek uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Russell to come home with the tying run. Matt Szczur then flied out to right, ending the inning.
"Stuff was terrible tonight," Cishek said. "I had a hard time commanding my fastball, slider was the not the same and I got exposed."
It was a heartbreaking loss for Seattle, which was in position to take the rubber game of the weekend series before the late rally by Chicago. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dae-Ho Lee each hit a two-run homer against Brian Matusz, helping the Mariners jump out to a 6-0 lead.
"I think for our club, coming in here, they've got the best record in baseball. And quite frankly, we should have got two out of three," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "It didn't happen. You've got to finish."
Looking for an extra day of rest for its rotation, Chicago promoted Matusz from Triple-A Iowa for a spot start. The Cubs also wanted to take a look at the veteran left-hander before an opt-out clause in his contract gave him the option of leaving the organization.
What they saw was a shaky three innings. Matusz, who signed a minor league deal with Chicago in June after he was cut by Atlanta, allowed six hits, walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.
Long after Matusz departed, Wood worked out of a jam in the sixth and then made a solid grab while playing left in the seventh. Wood hauled in Franklin Gutierrez's liner as he collided with the ivy-covered wall, earning a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,952 and big smiles from Maddon and reliever Pedro Strop.
"Travis, star of the game, between his pitching and that catch he made at the wall," Maddon said. "Not many guys play a brick wall like he just did. That was a great catch."
Wood returned to the mound in the eighth and threw to first as Shawn O'Malley was caught stealing to end the inning.
"This was an exciting one, just with everything going on, us battling back," Wood said. "Playing as good as we could and battling back and pulling it off.
On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, Seattle dealt left-hander Wade Miley to Baltimore for lefty Ariel Miranda. The Cuban pitcher has spent most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in one game for Baltimore on July 3 at Seattle, allowing three runs and four hits in two innings.
Matusz is the second lefty and seventh pitcher overall to start for Chicago this season. Reliever Justin Grimm was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster.
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