Cubs down 2-0 in NLCS after Dodgers' walk-off win
LOS ANGELES -- The National League championship series is hardly the ideal time for a team to need so many fixes.
That's where the Cubs found themselves heading into Game 2 of the NLCS Sunday night at Dodger Stadium.
Where they find themselves now is down two games to none in the best-of-seven series after the Los Angeles Dodgers walked off with a dramatic 4-1 victory in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Justin Turner crushed a pitch from John Lackey over the center-field wall with two outs to send the crowd of 54,479 into a frenzy.
According to the Dodgers and ESPN, Turner hit just the second walk-off homer in Dodgers history. The other was Kirk Gibson's homer off Dennis Eckersley to end Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, exactly 29 years ago Sunday.
"Bad location, probably bad selection," said Lackey, who was summoned in relief of Brian Duensing with a runner on second and two outs. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said closer Wade Davis was available only for a 1-inning save situation.
Duensing began his night in the eighth and started the ninth with a walk to Yasiel Puig. Charlie Culberson bunted Puig to second before Duensing struck out pinch hitter Kyle Farmer. Lackey came in and walked Chris Taylor before giving up the homer on a 1-0 pitch. On the mound, Lackey looked fidgety and he had to communicate with catcher Willson Contreras.
"We had a little trouble getting on the same page," Lackey said. "It happens sometimes."
The Cubs are up against it now, and they're battling on several fronts with Game 3 coming Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Their bullpen is beat up, although the middle relief was much better Sunday, with Carl Edwards Jr. rebounding with 3 strikeouts in 1⅓ innings.
Their starting pitchers are running up pitch counts and not turning in quality starts. Jon Lester worked 4⅔ innings, but he was coming off a 55-pitch relief outing last Wednesday in Game 4 of the division series.
Most troubling for the Cubs is that they're not hitting. It would be easy to point the finger at big guys Kris Bryant (5-for-28 with 13 strikeouts in the postseason) and Anthony Rizzo (4-for-26). They are not trying to shoulder too much of the load, or the blame.
"I think it would be selfish if we did," Rizzo said. "One-through-9, all 25 guys, we've got to get it going. Pitching's doing a heck of a job. You need help from everyone in the lineup, not just one or two guys."
While the Cubs have been trying to make something work with their overworked bullpen, six Dodgers relievers have given up no hits in 8 innings of work.
"We scored 1 run today, that's the issue," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We've scored 11 runs in six games during the playoffs."
The game began as a battle of left-handers with Lester taking on former Cub Rich Hill. Addison Russell touched Hill for a line-drive homer in the fifth to break a scoreless tie. Lester gave up an RBI single to Turner in the fifth.
"At the end of the day, you look up on a groundball that just gets through, and it's tied 1-1," Lester said. "It wasn't great, but it was only 1."
Hill worked 5 innings before Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to his lights-out bullpen.
"You're essentially counting outs and trying to get the best matchup for your guys," Roberts said. "It goes back to the trust we have in our pen and for each of our starters. It's a matter of giving everything you have for as long as you can."
As for Lester, he bristled at calling this game a "heartbreaker."
"A heartbreaker for who?" he asked. "It's a loss. We're not over. We're not done.
"Guys walked in here upbeat, ready to go for Tuesday. We had some music playing before you guys (media) got in here. We've all lost games before. We've all lost series before. So we'll move on to Tuesday."
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