Complete game by Hendricks, Baez clutch HR carry Cubs to sweep
The law of baseball averages basically guaranteed the Cubs would lose this game.
They headed into the seventh inning of Tuesday's doubleheader nightcap with a 1-0 lead. But it should have been so much more. They left the bases loaded in the fourth, squandered a leadoff triple by Anthony Rizzo in the fifth and loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth and never scored.
So there wasn't much doubt Craig Kimbrel would end his scoreless streak by giving up a tying home run to Max Muncy with one out in the seventh.
The Dodgers scored 2 runs off Dillon Maples in the top of the eighth, which counts as extra innings in this case. But then fate took a twist.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Javy Baez delivered a line-drive home run into the left-field bleachers, tying the score and keeping the Cubs alive.
The Cubs finally completed the doubleheader sweep in the bottom of the ninth when David Bote's single to deep right brought home automatic runner Kris Bryant from third for the 4-3 victory. Rookie lefthander Justin Steele kept Los Angeles scoreless in the top of the ninth.
"Baseball's a funny game," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Today we just had a slew of baserunners out there and just couldn't push it through. Even you've got some of your horses up there. I'm just super proud again of the fight this group has. They continue to battle, not give up, things aren't going our way."
Baez hit a 1-0 fastball off the Dodgers' Mitch White. Always one to appreciate the drama, Baez slowly walked toward first base as the ball sailed over the wall.
"Kind of pushing it out with my mind," Baez said. "Obviously, it's always great to come back. It's so enjoyable to see as a team. We've had ups and downs. But the way we have fun here and the way we compete is on another level, I believe."
The Cubs cruised to a 7-1 victory in Game 1 behind Kyle Hendricks' best performance of the season.
The Cubs faced Cy Young Award winners in both games. Trevor Bauer, who won it last year with the Reds before joining the Dodgers as a free agent, started the nightcap, while Clayton Kershaw lasted just 1 inning in the opener, the shortest outing of his career.
Up until a few bumps at the end, this was a nice day for Cubs pitchers. Following up Hendricks' complete-game win, Keegan Thompson got his first major league start in the nightcap and was very effective in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
Thompson, 26, was a third-round pick of the Cubs in 2017 out of Auburn. He made his major league debut Sunday with a scoreless inning in Cincinnati.
Hendricks started the day with a 7.54 ERA. He ran into some trouble at times on Tuesday, giving up 7 hits, but the Dodgers' only run was an inconsequential, pinch-hit home run by Keibert Ruiz in the seventh.
"Better first-pitch strikes, attacking the strike zone, just overall made a lot more good pitches," Hendricks said after the game. "Still a long way to go, need consistency, but a step in the right direction."
Hendricks has been so out of sorts this season, it was tough to tell where to begin to fix it. He's given up hard contact early in games and issuing more free passes than usual.
"We've been putting in a lot of work," Hendricks said. "Just simplifying, trying to get back down to the bottom of the zone, getting the timing out of my glove better and keeping my hand moving."