LOS ANGELES ― The Dodgers’ 56th win of the season was not a work of art. Starting pitcher Julio Urías barely made it through two innings, and the Dodgers needed every available reliever to get through nine innings of an 11-9 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
There are no style points in the standings. By winning 11 of their past 12 games – including all four against the Cubs – the Dodgers have cracked open an eight-game lead in the National League West.
Their next home game will have to wait another 12 games, until after the All-Star break. By then, the 3 hours and 59 minutes that passed Sunday afternoon will have faded into a happy blur.
Freddie Freeman had four hits, including a home run, to lead the Dodgers’ 14-hit attack. Phil Bickford (1-1), the first of six relief pitchers to succeed Urías, was credited with the victory. Brusdar Graterol recorded the final six outs to earn his third save of the season.
The Cubs sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning against Urías. Five scored.
Urías hit two batters in the inning. Ian Happ hit a routine fly ball to left field – it carried a 90% catch probability, according to Statcast – that Gavin Lux overran, resulting in a double. Lux barely moved in response to the next hit, a single by Niko Hoerner to drive in the first run. The next batter, P.J. Higgins, hit a grand slam.
Down 5-0, Urías survived that inning and tossed a 1-2-3 second, but his day ended there. The left-hander had thrown at least five innings in every start since Opening Day, a two-inning dud in Denver. The five runs he allowed were all earned, lifting his ERA to 3.01.
The Cubs weren’t done scoring. Neither were the Dodgers. By the third inning, both managers had turned the game over to their bullpens, turning the series finale into an afternoon slog. The second inning began 44 minutes after the first.
The Dodgers tagged Drew Smyly for three runs in the first inning, highlighted by an RBI double by Betts.
Bickford, pitching on his 27th birthday, served up a three-run home run to David Bote in the third inning, giving the Cubs an 8-3 lead.
But the Dodgers stormed back to score six runs in the bottom of the inning and take the lead. Eleven men batted against three different pitchers.
With two outs Mookie Betts hit a ground ball to Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom, who needed to make an easy throw across the diamond to end the inning. Wisdom underthrew first base, Betts was safe, two runs scored, and Trea Turner followed up with a two-run single to cap the rally. Suddenly the Dodgers led, 9-8.
Freeman capped an outstanding day at the plate – 4 for 5, two RBIs – by driving in a couple of necessary insurance runs. He tagged pitcher Anderson Espinoza for a solo home run in the sixth inning, putting the Dodgers in front 10-8. In the seventh, Freeman drove in Lux with an RBI single.
More to come on this story.