For as much as the Los Angeles Dodgers struggled to hit left-handed pitching this season, they strung together quality at-bats against Chicago Cubs ace Jon Lester in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series
However, the Dodgers had little to nothing to show for it. Corey Seager singled in the first inning, Adrian Gonzalez and Kenta Maeda did so in the second, but Gonzalez was thrown out at home plate on Maeda’s base hit to left.
The Cubs went on to extend their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Lester retired eight in a row before allowing a two-out, solo home run to pinch-hitter Andre Ethier in the fourth.
Lester was removed after just 77 pitches in six innings, because his spot came up with runners on base. With some luck, the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman entered and struck out Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig. But Chapman blew the save, allowing a two-run single to Gonzalez.
Any momentum the Dodgers generated was quickly erased as Miguel Montero hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth, and Dexter Fowler followed with a solo home run. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts drew criticism over the sequencing and decisions that led to Montero’s go-ahead blast.
While the Game 1 loss came in deflating fashion, Gonzalez viewed it as a boost in confidence for the Dodgers, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“You look at those early outs, diving plays, line drives at people, at the whole thing, and it’s kind of like, this game was meant for them to win, as hard as it is for me to say it,” said Gonzalez. “But, you know what? They know we’re here to play, they know we’re not backing down and they know we can beat them.”
“We like where we’re at. They won Game 1, but we can come back tomorrow, we’ll be ready. This game gave us a lot of confidence that we know we can beat them.”
Including the regular season, the Dodgers have dropped five of eight games to the Cubs, and are 1-4 at Wrigley Field this calendar year. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound on Sunday in Game 2, with an opportunity to force a tie in the NLCS and lock in three games at Dodger Stadium.