The Dodgers played with fire all Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field and finally got burned.
Hitless in their first 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Chicago Cubs came through in the eighth and ninth innings to hand the Dodgers a 4-3 loss in the nightcap and sweep the doubleheader.
The loss was the Dodgers’ eighth in their last 10 games and 12th in their last 16. They have lost four consecutive series for the first time since they dropped five from Aug. 25-Sept. 10, 2017 while losing 15 of 17 games.
Since starting the season 13-2, the Dodgers have the worst record in the National League. Only the Detroit Tigers have been worse.
Neither Sunday’s 16-run downpour or Monday’s rainout could totally wash away the Dodgers’ hitting slump. They managed just one run over the first 13 innings of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The Cubs came into the doubleheader with a group of starting pitchers that had posted the highest ERA in baseball (6.00). But Kyle Hendricks nearly shut them out in the first game, giving up only a solo home run to Keibert Ruiz in the seventh inning.
In the second game, right-hander Keegan Thompson made his first major-league start (though he had pitched an inning in relief earlier this season) after being optioned out Monday when the Cubs activated outfielder Joc Pederson from the Injured List then recalled for Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The Dodgers feasted on Brewers right-hander Alec Bettinger when he made his first major-league start on Sunday – not so much with Thompson.
Mookie Betts led off with a double and Corey Seager drew a walk from Thompson. But Chris Taylor bounced a ball down the third-base line that David Bote fielded as he touched the base then threw to first for a deflating double play.
The Dodgers had just two more hits before Muncy snapped his own slump with a solo home run off Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in the seventh inning.
It was the first earned run allowed by Kimbrel this season and Muncy’s first home run since April 15. In between, he went 3 for 46 with 21 strikeouts (including each of his previous seven at-bats) and no extra-base hits.
That was enough to tie the score thanks to the work of Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer and the bullpen.
Bauer walked the first two batters he faced and had runners in scoring position in each of his five innings. But he managed to dodge damage with the exception of a solo home run by Jason Heyward in the fourth inning.
Through seven starts as a Dodger, Bauer has allowed 13 runs – 11 have been the result of home runs (three two-run homers and five solo homers). With runners in scoring position, Bauer has allowed just one hit in 24 at-bats while striking out 15.
Six of those strikeouts came with Cubs in scoring position Tuesday, the biggest on a called third strike to Kris Bryant with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth. After giving up a leadoff triple to Anthony Rizzo in the fifth, Bauer again wriggled away unharmed with the help of Victor Gonzalez who relieved him with one out, got Heyward to bounce into a forceout of Rizzo at home then struck out Ildemaro Vargas.
The Cubs loaded the bases again in the sixth against Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen. But Treinen got a pop-up and two strikeouts to escape.
The backs-to-the-wall efforts by Bauer and Treinen left the Dodgers close enough to win in the eighth after Edwin Rios (the ‘extra’ runner) scored on a wild pitch and Turner hit a pinch-hit home run.
But Mitch White gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Javier Baez in the eighth, and the Cubs pushed across the winning run on David Bote’s one-out single in the ninth, finishing the game 2 for 20 with runners in scoring position.