Jon Lester, Cubs Extend Reign Over Dodgers With Walk-Off Victory
Jon Lester, Cubs Extend Reign Over Dodgers With Walk-off Victory
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs went 108 years without a World Series win, and were forced to wait to raise their 2016 banner on Monday night in the home opener at Wrigley Field. Mother Nature intervened but the pregame ceremony was eventually completed, and the first pitch was thrown after a one-hour, 56-minute delay.

Anthony Rizzo began the night carrying the World Series trophy into Wrigley Field, and finished it as the game’s hero.

Alex Wood worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the first inning to keep the game locked in an early scoreless tie. Jon Lester put Franklin Gutierrez aboard to start the second, but quickly picked up two outs when Yasiel Puig went down swinging and Gutierrez was thrown out on his stolen base attempt.

Perhaps more costly to the Dodgers, Gutierrez was removed in the bottom half of the inning due to a possible left-hamstring injury. The Dodgers’ first hit came via a Yasmani Grandal leadoff single in the third.

But all Lester did was respond by striking out the next three batters. Wood quickly retired the first two batters faced in the bottom of the inning, then was let down by his defense. Puig dropped a foul ball one step in front of the wall off the right-field line, and it led to Kyle Schwarber walking.

Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead on their first hit of the night. Wood walked Rizzo but managed to get out of the inning with just the one unearned run scoring.

Back-to-back singles from Addison Russell and Willson Contreras put two on for the Cubs with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth. Wood’s errant pickoff attempt at second base allowed both runners to advance. An intentional walk to load the bases with Lester due up did not work in the Dodgers’ favor.

The Cubs’ starter hit a soft grounder that appeared to be an infield single. The Dodgers did successfully challenge the safe call at second base, but a run nonetheless scored. Wood walked Schwarber to load the bases, and reached the end of the road.

Ross Stripling inherited a bases-loaded jam, which he worked out of, by inducing Bryant into a pop-up. Lester continued to sail in the fifth, retiring Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Grandal in order.

After a 1-2-3 fifth inning by Stripling, the Dodgers broke through against Lester in the sixth. Pederson and Forsythe singled, and Corey Seager pulled an RBI double down the first-base line to cut the Cubs’ lead in half. Lester limited the damage by retiring Puig and Van Slyke.

Josh Fields did his part to keep the Dodgers within a run by striking out a pair en route to setting the Cubs down in order in the bottom of the sixth. Carl Edwards Jr. took over in the seventh and immediately ran into trouble.

Puig drew a leadoff walk, Gonzalez reached via catcher’s interference, and Grandal walked to load the bases. Justin Grimm took over, only to fall behind in the count, 3-0, to Pederson. He battled back and wound up inducing a pop-out. Pinch-hitter Andrew Toles then grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Grant Dayton worked around a leadoff double followed by a walk in the bottom of the seventh to complete a scoreless inning in relief. Pedro Strop allowed a leadoff single to Forsythe in the eighth and later hit Turner with a pitch to put two on with one out.

Koji Uehara took over for the Cubs, which brought about Chase Utley as a pinch-hitter for Van Slyke. He grounded to first but the Cubs failed to complete a 3-6-1 inning-ending double play as Russell’s throw went wide of the bag. Forsythe scored on the play, tying the game at 2-2.

Sergio Romo walked Heyward with two outs in the bottom of the eighth but stranded him by striking out Javier Baez. Wade Davis allowed a one-out single to Grandal, saw Toles reach on an error, but kept the Dodgers off the board.

Pinch-hitter Jon Jay led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, then moved into scoring position on a slow chopper up the middle. That prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to call on Kenley Jansen, who entered with Austin Barnes in a double switch. Jansen struck out Bryant but surrendered a walk-off single to Rizzo.