Dodgers 4, Cubs 1: Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s first MLB win backed by another Max Muncy clutch hit to tie series

Yoshinobu Yamamoto picked up his first career MLB win on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs (5-3) to tie the series at a game apiece. The Dodgers’ offense walked a sketchy tightrope against the Cubs until the bats finally broke through in a three-run fifth.

The Dodgers (8-3) brought their .853 OPS vs. left-handed pitching into the Saturday matchup with the Cubs, and they added to that with six hits against southpaw Jordan Wicks. Max Muncy and Austin Barnes both went 2-for-4, and Muncy finally connected for a big hit in the fifth off right-hand reliever Jose Cuas.

On a day without Will Smith in the lineup and a rare Freddie Freeman 0-for-5 night with two strikeouts, the Dodgers’ bullpen was dominant and shut down the Chicago lineup until their lone run in the bottom of the ninth against Evan Phillips.


It didn’t start out pretty. The offense stranded a small city of runners in the first part of the game and wasted a bunch of scoring opportunities against Wicks.

The Dodgers’ bats forged a first-inning attack on southpaw Jordan Wicks behind a Mookie Betts walk and Shohei Ohtani single, and a wild pitch moved both guys up, but Freddie Freeman, Teoscar Hernández, and Max Muncy failed to get the big hit to cash in.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto got into some early trouble himself, reminiscent of his Seoul Series disaster start. Luckily he was able to pitch masterfully around the jams he found himself in against the Cubbies.

Ian Happ crushed a leadoff double over the head of Enrique Hernández in center field, and Seiya Suzuki walked to bring up old friend Cody Bellinger with two on and nobody out. Suzuki then beat out the throw from Miguel Rojas to second on a small roller off the bat of Bellinger to load the bases with nobody out. The first three Cubs reached against Yamamoto, and that spurred a Mark Prior (and Will Ireton) mound visit.

Yamamoto then pulled off a disappearing magic act and struck out Christopher Morel, Dansby Swanson and old friend Michael Busch with some edgy pinpoint pitching to escape unscathed.

The Dodgers’ offense had another chance with a couple of runners and one out in the second, but they once again failed to cash in. They stranded four runners through the first two frames.

In the bottom of the second, Chicago loaded the bases against Yamamoto. Again. Though this time it was partially due to a Muncy error extending the inning. Bellinger came up with two outs, and in a big spot. Yoshi struck him out to squash the bases-loaded attack for the second straight inning.

That was it for the threats as Yamamoto ended up going five shutout, and he really showed off some of his nasty pitch arsenal again this start. He’s really going to be a treat to watch over the next 12 years.

In the fourth, Muncy finally managed a base hit off a lefty, and his first hit of the series, with a leadoff double. So the Dodgers, once again, got base runners on versus Wicks, but once again they couldn’t take advantage.

In the next frame it was more of the same, as Austin Barnes and Ohtani singled in the top of the fifth. But this time the game unraveled quickly for Craig Counsell after he brought in right-hander Jose Cuas. The Dodgers’ bats finally broke through, as Cuas walked Teoscar, and a wild pitch gave the Dodgers the first run of the game. Muncy then came up again and finally found that big hit he was looking for, and his second of the game. Muncy’s big RBI single gave the Dodgers two more runs and a 3-0 lead.

On the other side, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, and Daniel Hudson each pitched scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Dodgers to get them into the 9th.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers added a fourth run, thanks to the setting sun in Chicago, in the eighth. Chris Taylor reached on a throwing error by third baseman Miles Mastrobuoni, and the Rojas RBI single gave them an insurance run.

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

The Cubs threatened in the ninth when Dansby Swanson and Michael Busch started the final inning with consecutive base hits against the Dodgers’ closer Phillips. The strike zone was a rollercoaster all game, but Phillips and the Dodgers were able to close it out to tie the series.


The Dodgers go for the series win in the rubber game Sunday at Wrigley Field before they head to Minnesota. Gavin Stone makes his second start of the season (5.40 ERA, 6 K, 1.60 WHIP, 5 IP). The Cubs give the ball to their Japanese superstar Shota Imanaga (1-0, 9 K, 0.33 WHIP, 6 IP). Imanaga flirted with a no-hitter and struck out nine in six scoreless innings in his MLB debut vs. the Rockies (2-6).

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.