It might have seemed a bit strange to hear Anthony Rizzo say the Cubs were shut down by the Dodgers on Thursday. After all, the North Siders did hit four home runs.
But Rizzo’s words rang pretty true. The Cubs mustered just one hit besides the total of four homers lifted out by the duo of Rizzo and Junior Lake, and the Cubs fell, 6-4, to the red-hot Dodgers in front of 34,005 at Wrigley Field.
“They scored more runs than we did. We didn’t really give ourselves the opportunity to score runs tonight,” Rizzo said. “This is unusual for us, we usually give ourselves an opportunity every game. But tonight, the solo home runs kept us in it, but other than that they pretty much shut us down.”
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Lake and Rizzo went back-to-back in the first inning to give the Cubs an early 2-0 edge, but the Dodgers’ steady stream of base runners was too much too handle.
Chris Rusin gave up a two-run double to Hanley Ramirez in the third, which briefly tied the game at 2. Lake then homered again in the bottom of that inning, boosting the Cubs’ ahead, 3-2.
But after dancing around trouble all night, Rusin was removed from the game after putting the first two batters on in the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, former Cub Jerry Hairston Jr. sent a base hit up the middle that scored two, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 edge. After a flyout and a Puig double, Adrian Gonzalez dumped a two-out single into center field, easily scoring Hairston. Puig was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second, but the damage was already done, with the Dodgers owning a 5-3 lead after their three-run frame.
“My stuff was there. I thought in the third inning I left a couple pitches up when they put it down in the corner, scored a couple runs,” Rusin said. “They’re a good team. You can’t make those mistakes because they’ll capitalize on them. In the sixth, ... I put (reliever Michael) Bowden in a tough situation. Other than that, I nibbled too much, I thought in the sixth inning. I’ve got to attack a little more. Can’t make mistakes with those teams.”
Rizzo’s second long ball came in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the game within one. But the rookie sensation Puig answered in the top of the ninth with a solo shot of his own -- the last of the Dodgers’ 12 hits and the only one to leave the yard -- that seemingly thwarted any planned Cubs comeback.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum was happy with the home runs and the strides made by the players who hit them, but he added that only one other hit from the rest of the lineup was disappointing.
“We had four solo home runs by two people,” Sveum said. “It’s nice to see Laker come back and obviously have two home runs after having a tough little week. Rizzo’s obviously starting to swing the bat a little better and swinging the bat real well so far on this home stand.
“We’re not getting a whole lot out of a lot of things right now, lineup-wise. So we’ve got to get some production out of third base. And (Dioner) Navarro swung the bat, hit two balls right on the nose in a couple key situations, the game’s changed a bit if those balls fall in. That was too bad.”
The Dodgers have won games in so many ways during their impressive hot stretch, it’s not terribly surprising to see them grab a victory on a night they surrendered four homers. In their past 35 games, the Dodgers have posted a stunning 28-7 record.
In the end, Rizzo was happy with the way the Cubs handled the surging visitors from L.A.
“We fight, it’s not like we’re going to go out there and give up. They’ve got a good team over there, and they’re in first place for a reason,” Rizzo said.