Chicago Cubs’ bullpen lights-out in series opener
Kris Bryant homered twice – with one coming off Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw – to lead the Chicago Cubs past Don Mattingly‘s club in the series opener Monday night at Wrigley Field by a 4-2 final.
The contest marked the Cubs’ third baseman’s first career two-homer game on a night when the wind was a major factor in Chicago, with severe weather rolling through the northern part of Illinois all evening long.
Chicago (38-30) only got two innings from starter Tsuyoshi Wada, who left with a shoulder cramp early-on after allowing one run on two hits. Los Angeles shortstop Enrique Hernandez delivered one of those hits, a solo shot that gave the Dodgers an early 1-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the third, Bryant launched the first of his two home runs, taking Kershaw deep to right-center field on a breaking ball to give the Cubs a 2-1 edge. It marked the first time this year an opposing hitter hit a Kershaw curve ball out – a promising sign for the young slugger.
His second blast came late, in the eighth inning, and it proved to be huge, as Joc Pederson took Cubs reliever Jason Motte deep in the top of the ninth for his 19th homer of the year, cutting the Chicago lead to 4-2.
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All of the Cubs’ runs on Monday came via the long-ball, with three courtesy of Bryant, who now has 10 home runs on the season, and another coming in the seventh off the bat of recently-promoted outfielder Matt Sczcur, who replaced Kyle Schwarber on the roster early Monday morning.
Left-hander Travis Wood (4-3) pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four and walking three – good enough to pick up the win in relief of Wada. James Russell, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon bridged the gap to Motte, who earned his second save of the season.
Kershaw, meanwhile, fell to 5-5 on the year, allowing three earned on four hits over seven innings of work. He struck out nine and walked two, and two of the four hits he allowed left the yard.
Chicago leapfrogged Los Angeles in the standings and now boasts the third-best record in the league. Unfortunately, the two teams better than the Cubs in the standings are the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cubs will welcome the Dodgers back to Wrigley Field Tuesday for game two of a three-game tilt.