Dodgers’ five-run seventh sinks Chicago Cubs in series opener


Leading 4-1 entering the seventh, the Chicago Cubs’ chances of reeling off a fourth consecutive win in front of the home faithful seemed high, but a five-run outburst in the top of the inning spelled doom as the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for an 8-4 win in Thursday night’s series opener at Wrigley Field.


After Chicago reliever Neil Ramirez entered in relief of Justin Grimm, promptly retiring Matt Kemp for the first out, the wheels came off for the Cubs right-hander. Hanley Ramirez and pinch-hitter Carl Crawford both singles, putting men on the corners with one out. Juan Uribe then hit a sharp ground ball to second base and it ate Logan Watkins up, plating Ramirez and putting runners at first and second with the Dodgers (87-66) trailing 4-2.

The inning continued to spiral downward from there, with the Dodgers pushing across four more runs in the inning courtesy of RBI doubles by Andre Ethier and Dee Gordon, an RBI single by Yasiel Puig and an RBI groundout by Justin Turner. By the time the dust settled, Ramirez (2-3, 1.55 ERA) was hit for all five runs in just two-thirds of an inning of work.

Los Angeles added single runs in both the eighth and the ninth innings, but the Cubs offense failed to record another run after plating their final pair of tallies in the bottom of the fifth.

Leading 2-1, Chicago (68-85) pushed across a third run on an RBI single by outfielder Jorge Soler, who also drove in one of the team’s first two runs with a single. Mike Olt, who was manning first base for the Cubs on Thursday night, drove in the club’s fourth – and final – run on a sacrifice fly, giving the Chicago relief corps a 4-1 advantage to work with.

Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada, who did not factor into the decision, was superb, allowing just one run on five hits, striking out five – a solid bounce back performance after two less-than-ideal outings for the left-hander. However, in four innings of work, Chicago relievers combined to allow seven runs on eight base hits.

The one-through-five hitters in the Chicago lineup all tallied a pair of hits apiece and Soler, who was batting fifth for manager Ricky Renteria, drove in a pair of runs. Luis Valbuena and Olt accounted for the team’s other two RBIs in the loss.

Puig collected a trio of base hits to pace the Los Angeles offense, while Gordon, Ramirez and Uribe all added two apiece. With the win, the Dodgers maintain a 2 1/2 game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West with just nine games left to play – including three more over the weekend at Wrigley.