Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Travis Wood was named a 2013 National League All-Star. Needless to say, in Tuesday night’s matchup with the Dodgers, all eyes were on the opposing southpaw pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, as he sought win number 14 on the season.
A catcher’s interference call was the only thing that kept the lefty from accomplishing that goal, with Chicago taking down the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-2.
Wood (8-10) matched his counterpart pitch-for-pitch, holding a potent Dodgers’ lineup in check, and overcoming yet another shoddy performance by the Chicago offense, which totaled just one unearned run against Kershaw in five-plus innings of work.
Pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic came in the game as a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh inning, grounding a ball up the middle, resulting in a 6-4-3 double play that forced in a run to make it a 3-1 Cubs’ lead. Anthony Rizzo, who did not start Tuesday’s game, followed as a pinch-hitter, as well, and was intentionally walked by reliever Ronald Belisario. A routine groundout ended the inning and Chicago failed to capitalize on a potentially big inning, settling for just one run.
An RBI single to center off the bat of Andre Ethier against reliever Pedro Strop plated a run in the bottom of the eighth, cutting the Chicago lead to 3-2. With two on and one out, Los Angeles’ Skip Schumaker grounded into an inning-ending 6-3 double play, sending things to the ninth in the Cubs’ favor.
Wood helped his own cause, leading off the third with a single and coming around to score on a single by Dioner Navarro off Kershaw. Just one batter prior, a catcher’s interference call proved pivotal, as it directly contributed to the Cubs’ run in the frame.
Chicago added another run off Kershaw in the top of the sixth when Starlin Castro laced a single to left field, scoring Cody Ransom, who singled earlier in the inning, hitting a ball off the right leg of Kershaw.
The National League Cy Young contender, Kershaw, lasted just 5 2/3 innings against one of the most inconsistent lineups in the game today, thanks to a patient approach by Chicago hitters, which helped balloon his pitch count early on. In less than six innings, Kershaw threw more than 100 pitches, allowing two runs – one earned, on seven hits and three walks,while striking out nine. Tuesday night was Kershaw’s shortest outing since April 23 against the New York Mets, which lasted just five innings in which he allowed just two earned runs.
Wood danced in and out of trouble all night long, but managed to do just enough to keep Chicago in the game. The southpaw finally allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth, when Juan Uribe scored Hanley Ramirez with an RBI single to the opposite field, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 2-1. Earlier in the inning, Wood let an errant pickoff throw loose, allowing Ramirez to move into scoring position.
The lefty finished the night with seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just the lone unearned run on five hits, while striking out six and walking two.
Tuesday’s win marks the first time Chicago has beaten Los Angeles this season, dating back to last August 3 – a span in which the Cubs are now 1-8. The two teams will meet on Wednesday afternoon for the series finale. Edwin Jackson gets the start for Chicago, and will be opposed by Ricky Nolasco.