Marred in an offensive drought, the Chicago Cubs saw their bats wake up against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series to avoid facing elimination on Thursday.
True to the reputation that precedes him, Julio Urias needed just 12 pitches to retire the Cubs in order in the first inning, ending it by striking out Anthony Rizzo. John Lackey hit Corey Seager with a pitch, though he was erased on a force out.
Justin Turner, who was standing on second base after Javier Baez’s threw it away on a double play attempt, was backpicked by Wilson Contreras to end the inning.
After Baez drew a one-out walk in the second, Seager made a diving stop on a Contreras grounder, but Utley dropped the barehanded toss.
His error left two on with nobody out. Urias worked out of the small jam by striking out Jason Heyward and getting Addison Russell to fly out. Russell’s fly ball was driven to the warning track in left field.
With Adrian Gonzalez standing on first base after a leadoff single, Yasmani Grandal kept the bottom of the second alive by drawing a leadoff walk. That nearly paid off as Andrew Toles lined a base hit into right field.
Gonzalez was sent home, ruled out at home plate but appeared to be safe, which prompted the Dodgers to challenge. MLB’s replay official determined there was not a sufficient evidence to overturn the call, so the inning came to an end with the game still scoreless.
Urias worked around a two-out walk and struck out Rizzo a second time on the night to complete a third shutout inning. Ben Zobrist’s bunt single to open the fourth was the Cubs’ first hit and sparked a big inning.
Baez and Contreras followed with back-to-back flare singles to left field, with the latter giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Had Toles’ throw to home plate been on target it’s likely Zobrist is out on his attempt to score.
The run snapped the Cubs’ scoreless streak ends at 21 innings. Heyward drove a run in on his groundout, and Russell landed the big blow by connecting on a two-run homer. Pedro Baez gave up a double to Dexter Fowler before getting the Dodgers out of the inning.
Josh Reddick reached on catcher’s interference with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, and Joc Pederson singled, but Lackey struck out Grandal on a pitch in the dirt to keep the Dodgers off the board.
One pitch after a borderline call went against Rizzo, he clubbed a solo home run off Baez in the fifth. Lackey walked Toles and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier to put two on with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth, and gave way to Mike Montgomery.
Howie Kendrick pinch-hit for Utley and lined a single into right field to load the bases. After striking out Seager, Mongtomery’s instinct hurt the Cubs as he stabbed at a Turner comebacker. The ball skipped off his glove and rolled into shallow left field, allowing two runs to score.
However, the Cubs got those back and then some in the sixth. Kiké Hernandez’s error on an infield single left Russell on second base with one out. Montgomery’s single put runners on the corners, and Fowler followed with an RBI base hit.
Two batters later, with the bases loaded, Rizzo hit a two-run single. Luis Avilan replaced Ross Stripling and allowed Zobrist to reach on a swinging bunt. Pederson made a diving catch on a shallow fly ball to center, only for his throw home to kick off the mound and over Grandal’s head.
Two runs scored on the play, and the Cubs’ lead grew to 10-2. Alex Wood made his 2016 postseason debut, and worked around some traffic to throw a scoreless eighth inning. The Dodgers failed to generate much noise over the final three innings and were soundly defeated by the Cubs.