Fresh off a series victory that ended in a bit of thud, the Los Angeles Dodgers opened a three-game set with the Chicago Cubs, owners of the best record in baseball. Friday’s matchup also marked the Dodgers debut of Carlos Ruiz.
Bud Norris was hurt by some bad luck as he jammed and broke Dexter Fowler’s bat, but it resulted in a leadoff flare single to right field in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo walked with one out, and Addison Russell hit an RBI single up the middle to give the Cubs an early lead.
One night after needing a two-out single in the ninth inning from Corey Seager to break up San Francisco Giants lefty Matt Moore’s no-hitter, Howie Kendrick ensured there wouldn’t be any drama by lining a leadoff base hit to right field.
Kendrick reached second base on Justin Turner’s groundout, but was stranded as Mike Montgomery got Adrian Gonzalez swinging to end the first. Norris walked Miguel Montero on four pitches in the second, but collected back-to-back strikeouts to escape the inning unscathed.
Montgomery walked Kiké Hernandez and hit Ruiz with a pitch to put two on with nobody out in the bottom of the second. Josh Reddick’s run with misfortune continued as he hit a line drive off Montgomery’s shin and the pitcher recovered to make the play at first base.
Chase Utley’s RBI groundout tied the game before Montgomery managed to get out of the inning. He ran into more trouble in the third, issuing a leadoff walk to Kendrick then surrendering a double to Seager.
Turner’s second groundout of the game drove a run in, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Both Hernandez and Ruiz kept the inning alive by drawing a walk, with the latter loading the bases. However, Reddick left the runners stranded as he struck out swinging.
Norris cruised through the fourth inning, giving him eight consecutive batters retired, and 10 of the last 11 faced up to that point. After Utley led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, the Cubs’ defense gave the Dodgers a hand.
Norris’ sacrifice bunt up the third-base side resulted in a single when Montgomery charged it, only to pull up late and defer to Kris Bryant, leaving neither with a play. Kendrick bounced into a double play, but it scored a run and extended the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1.
Seager hit a flare into left field that bounced in front of Jorge Soler and went between his legs. The young shortstop was fortunately awarded with a double on the play. The two-base hit was Seager’s 37th of the season, which tied him with Daniel Murphy and Rizzo for the National League-lead.
But nothing came of Segaer’s extra-base hit as Turner grounded out for the third time on the night. Norris nearly got away with walking a pair in the fifth, but Rizzo’s chopper up the middle carried into center field for a two-out, RBI single.
Whereas Utley failed to come up with a diving stop on Rizzo’s hit because he was shifted toward right field, he laid out for Ben Zobrist’s grounder and threw from shallow right field while laying on his back to end the inning and prevent the tying run from scoring.
Following a Bryant error that allowed Hernandez to reach with one out, Ruiz lined his first hit with the Dodgers — a single — into right field. The veteran catcher had reached in all three of his plate appearances at that juncture.
Montgomery worked his way out of the small jam by striking out Reddick and Utley. Pedro Baez took over for Norris and tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning, collecting one strikeout in the process. Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Seager and Turner in the bottom of the sixth after walking Kendrick.
Joe Blanton formed a familiar battery with his 2008 Philadelphia Phillies teammate, and retired the Cubs in order in the seventh. Gonzalez provided an insurance run in the bottom half of the inning, clubbing a solo shot to center field.
Reddick lined a much-needed single into right field but was soon after picked off first base to end the inning. Gonzalez’s homer loomed large as Bryant hit a towering home run off Blanton in the eighth to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 4-3.
Kenley Jansen gave up a leadoff double to Jason Heyward and it spelled doomed. Jansen appeared to be affected by Heyward’s presence at second base and although Jansen struck out Soler, it was on a wild pitch that allowed Heyward to take third.
He then scored on a second wild pitch from Jansen, tying the game. Travis Wood took over for the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth and retired Seager, Turner and Gonzalez in order to send the game into extra innings.
Adam Liberatore gave up a leadoff single to Fowler in the 10th, followed by a two-run homer to Bryant. Aroldis Chapman gave up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson before closing out the Cubs’ 6-4 victory.