The Los Angeles Dodgers sent another rookie to the mound Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Chicago Cubs. Los Angeles entered the rubber match two games ahead of the San Francisco Giants, and with an opportunity to win a second straight series.
Brock Stewart opened the game with a strikeout before walking Kris Bryant. Anthony Rizzo flied out and Ben Zobrist struck out swinging to end the inning. Jon Lester struck out the side — Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez — after walking Howie Kendrick to start the bottom of the first.
Stewart worked around a Jason Heyward one-out base hit in the second inning by striking out Javier Baez and David Ross. Lester ran his string of consecutive strikeouts to four by getting Kiké Hernandez swinging.
Rob Segedin flied out, Yasmani Grandal grounded out, and the Dodgers were without a hit through two innings. Stewart continued to pound the zone in the third, striking out the side.
Stewart reached eight strikeouts at that point, breaking a career high he set in his Major League debut on June 29. Stewart then ended Lester’s no-hitter with a slap single to left field.
However, nothing came of it as Kendrick grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Dodgers generated some traction in the fourth behind a Seager walk and Gonzalez base hit.
But Lester stopped them there, inducing Hernandez into an inning-ending double play. Heyward led off the fifth with a single to right field. Ross walked with one out, and both runners were moved into scoring position on Lester’s sacrifice bunt.
Stewart retired Dexter Fowler to keep the Cubs off the board and end the inning. After allowing a leadoff single to Segedin, Lester retired the next two batters faced. Even though Segedin was not in scoring position, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to pinch-hit for Stewart.
Josh Reddick wasn’t able to make the decision pay off as he flied out to center. Jesse Chavez gave up a leadoff double to Bryant in the sixth. Chavez got Addison Russell to pop-out after walking Zobrist, and exited responsible for the runners on first and third base.
Grant Dayton was the beneficiary of smooth fielding by Gonzalez, as the Gold Glover snagged a line drive to end the inning. Lester retired Kendrick, Seager and Turner in order to complete six shutout innings.
Dayton remained in the game in the seventh and worked around a one-out walk to keep the game locked in a scoreless tie. Justin Grimm allowed a leadoff single to Gonzalez, then proceeded to strike out the side.
The Cubs again had their lead off man reach, with Bryant dropping a bloop single into center field. Joe Blanton retired the next three batters, but didn’t get out of the inning without some luck.
There was miscommunication between Charlie Culberson and Seager on a popup behind second base, which resulted in the middle infielders colliding. However, Seager managed to catch the carom with his barehand for the third out.
Trevor Cahill hit pinch-hitter Andrew Toles with a pitch to put the go-ahead run on base with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Cahill then threw the ball away after fielding a jam shot, leaving runners on second and third. Seager was intentionally walked to load the bases.
After Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Turner, he was let down by his defense. Baez fielded a Gonzalez chopper and elected to throw to second base. Seager’s hustle led to him beating Zobrist to the bag, allowing the Dodgers to take a 1-0 lead. The safe call was upheld after the Cubs’ challenge.
Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth and converted a second consecutive save opportunity since blowing a save in Friday’s series opener.