Chicago Cubs lose Game 1 of NLCS to Dodgers 5-2

 
 
Updated 10/15/2017 8:34 AM
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  • Los Angeles Dodgers' Charlie Culberson (37) is called safe at home past Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's National League championship series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

    Los Angeles Dodgers' Charlie Culberson (37) is called safe at home past Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras during the seventh inning of Game 1 of baseball's National League championship series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017.

LOS ANGELES -- We can rule out fatigue as the cause of the Chicago Cubs' demise in Game 1 of the National League championship series.

Instead, we round up the usual suspects: bases on balls and home runs given up by relief pitchers at bad times.

The end result was a 5-2 victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers before 54,289 fans at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs came into this game physically and emotionally drained after needing more than 4 hours to beat the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the division series Thursday.

They then traveled across the country, only to be diverted in Albuquerque for several hours because of an illness suffered by the wife of Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana, the starter in Game 1.

Quintana was OK over 5 innings, but he did give up 2 costly walks in the Dodgers' 2-run fifth.

Reliever Hector Rondon allowed a leadoff homer to Chris Taylor in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie, and Mike Montgomery did the same with Yasiel Puig in the Dodgers' 2-run seventh.

Things got interesting in the seventh, when the Dodgers scored twice. Manager Joe Maddon got himself ejected over a rule he detests: the catcher collision rule at home plate. Maddon went so far as to invoke the Cook County soda pop tax, and catcher Willson Contreras had another idea.

"I think we just need to go to Walmart and get some toys and let them play out there," Contreras said.

Here's what happened. After Puig's leadoff homer, Charlie Culberson doubled and stayed at second on a bunt out by pitcher Brandon Morrow and an infield single by Chris Taylor.

John Lackey came in to pitch, and he gave up a single to Justin Turner. Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber came up firing and appeared to get Culberson at home.

The Dodgers challenged, and Culberson was called safe because it was ruled Contreras had the plate blocked before he had the ball. The Cubs contended Contreras had to reach for the ball, and that took him into the baseline.

Never mind. Maddon needs no excuse to rail on what he thinks is a bad rule. He was tossed from the game but managed to give each umpire a piece of his mind.

"I saw a great baseball play," he said. "I saw Schwarber come in on a grounded ball, use his feet perfectly, make a low, great throw to the plate that could have been cut off. The ball was kind of taking Willson towards the line, towards foul territory. He catches the ball, and his technique was absolutely 100 percent correct.

"I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that. I will defend the umpires. The umpires did everything according to what they've been told, but I, from Day One, have totally disagreed with the content of that rule. I think it's wrong.

"That was a beautifully done major-league play all the way around. That gets interpreted kind of like tantamount to the soda tax in Chicago, for me."

The Cubs' offense was not overwhelmed by Dodgers starting pitcher and ace Clayton Kershaw. He lasted 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. Albert Almora Jr. opened the scoring with a 2-run homer in the fourth.

Maddon also put left-handed hitting Schwarber into the lineup. A part-time catcher, Schwarber had a hard time understanding what happened at the plate.

"It stinks," he said. "I still think the rule's pretty vague. I know you have to give (the runner) the lane. What it looked like at first is Willson did kind of give him the lane, and when the ball was coming in, he stepped into the lane. That's pretty much how we're taught as catchers when we're getting brought up."

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