It was a long and wild ride. The Dodgers trailed the Cubs 5-0, then 8-3, and then took a 9-8 lead. That was all after just three innings.
In the end the Dodgers grinded out one of their best comebacks of the year. The four-game sweep of the Cubs marked their seventh straight victory. It was an interesting and long way to cap off a 10-1 home stand.
Julio Urias was in trouble right out of the gate, as his command was way off. He hit two batters in the first inning and threw more pitches in a single inning than any Dodgers pitcher this season. Gavin Lux‘s missed plays in left field behind him also contributed to the five run-first. Ian Happ doubled over his head and Nico Hoerner singled in front of him to bring in the first run for Chicago. Later, P.J. Higgins crushed a four-seamer over the left field wall for a grand slam.
Urías had some time to settle down. He came back out and made 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 second inning. Although he looked better in the second, it wasn’t Julio’s day. He was out of the game after two innings and 59 pitches.
So that was a big hill to climb. The Dodgers began to chip away at the five-run deficit in the home half of the first against an equally struggling Drew Smyly. Smyly threw 36 pitches. Will Smith knocked in a run with a RBI double, his third straight game with a RBI. Justin Turner, fresh from a day off, drove in the second run of the frame for the Dodgers with a RBI single. Max Muncy‘s sac fly made it 5-3.
For the Dodgers pen, it wasn’t a great birthday for Phil Bickford. Or was it? Bickford did end up with the win at the conclusion of this wacky game. He struck out two in the third, but then the long-haired reliever served up a three-run home run to David Bote. The three runs the Dodgers scratched out in the first frame were essentially erased when the Cubs took a 8-3 lead.
On the other end, the Dodgers’ offense inched a bit closer in the third. Freddie Freeman doubled, and Smith drove him in. Jake Lamb got the call from Dave Roberts to pinch-hit for Hanser Alberto with the bases loaded and one out against right-hander Matt Swarmer. With the chance to tie up the game with one swing, Lamb struck out swinging. Lux drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Dodgers their fifth run.
David Ross made two pitching changes in the third, and it looked like his move to Mark Leiter Jr. had neutralized Mookie’s bat with a chopper to third to end the inning, but a wild throwing error by Patrick Wisdom allowed two runs to score. Then Trea Turner gave the Dodgers a 9-8 lead with a 2-RBI single.
Freeman’s sixth inning solo home run off Anderson Espinoza gave the Dodgers a two-run lead.
Freeman collected his fourth hit of the day in the bottom of the seventh with a RBI single. Sounds like a game an All-Star would have.
The Cubs got their first run since the third inning when Nelson Velazquez slugged a solo home run against David Price in the top of the eighth. Brusdar Graterol came out of the bullpen and stopped the threat. Bazooka induced two ground balls for three outs.
With Craig Kimbrel unavailable, and 13 pitchers used already in the game, Roberts asked Graterol to close it out. After Lux moved from the outfield to the infield, he turned things around defensively. He made a great snare for the first out in the ninth at second base. Graterol struck out Wisdom looking with his 100-mph sinker. Justin Turner shut it down with a great play at the hot corner to give the Dodgers their 30th home win.
The Dodgers improve to 56-29 overall and 30-13 at home. The Giants clobbered the Padres on Saturday, 12-0, so the Dodgers are now 8 games ahead of San Diego in the NL West.
Following the off-day on Monday, the Dodgers finish out the final portion of their schedule in the first half before the All-Star break. They open the road trip in St. Louis when they take on the Cardinals (45-42) for three. Mitch White (1-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) takes on Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 4.74 ERA, 5.11 BB/9) at 4:45 PM PST in the opener Tuesday from Busch Stadium. Last September 8, White was outpitched by Adam Wainwright in a 5-4 Dodgers loss to the Red Birds.