CHICAGO -- From a foggy day in Wrigley, the news was more bad than good in a one-run loss (lowering the Dodgers’ league-leading record in one-run games to 9-4), but let’s focus on the positive first.
The good: After seeing the Cubs put an infield shift on him in every at-bat and in every situation, Matt Kemp did some damage is fourth time up in the eighth inning, Matt Kemp hammered a triple to right field. But it’s important to keep in mind that he didn’t beat the defense to do that, he beat the pitcher he was facing (Kerry Wood). The infield was shifted -- not the outfield. Kemp’s hard-hit sailing fly ball made it into the ivy, and Ellis scored easily from second. He then scored on Andre Ethier’s sac fly to center, pulling the Dodgers within a run.
Super-sub Jerry Hairston Jr. provided at least three more reasons to keep him in the lineup more often than not. His first time up, Hairston popped his first home run of the season into Wrigley’s left-field bleachers, he laced an opposite-field single in his second at-bat, and in his third, his triple into the right-field corner plated the Dodgers’ second run. Nevertheless, if Don Mattingly’s pre-game comments are any kind of guide, Juan Uribe won’t have to worry about being Pipp’d just yet -- his injury aside, Uribe is still the Dodgers’ regular third baseman.
And in something of a reach for something positive to say, let’s note A.J. Ellis’ seventh-inning throw to gun down Campana was the seventh baserunner kill notched on his watch behind the dish, against just nine successful steals at that point. (Later in the inning, Castro stole third, but drew no throw -- what, you thought the home scorer was going to call defensive indifference on one of his own guys?) On attempted steals of second, Ellis has thrown out six of 14 would-be thieves. His overall caught-stealing rate of 41 percent ranks fourth among regular receivers in the National League.
The bad: Perhaps the less that Chad Billingsley sees of David DeJesus in the future, the better off he and the Dodgers will be. In their first-ever regular-season confrontation, the Cubs’ leadoff man doubled to right and scored, singled to right, and tripled to right-center to drive in a run. Billingsley avenged himself with a strikeout in their fourth confrontation, but that’s small consolation after the damage done.
Cubs baserunners were aggressive about taking additional bases and pushing the Dodgers’ D. In the first inning, DeJesus moved up after his double on a grounder to short, and Starlin Castro took a base after plating DeJesus that put him into position to score on Alfonso Soriano’s two-out single. In the fourth, Darwin Barney legged out what looked like a single up the middle, pushing for second and challenging Matt Kemp’s arm. Kemp’s no-bounce bullet to second seemed like it got Barney, but the non-robot ump charged with making the call said Barney had made it safely.
The bullpen didn’t help matters much in the seventh inning when lefty Scott Elbert put three men in a row on base; if not for Ellis gunning down Campana, the situation would have been even more dire by the time Don Mattingly rolled out Todd Coffey. Coffey exacerbated matters when Alfonso Soriano pulled a pitch into the left-field corner, scoring the Cubs’ fifth run and creating a second-and-third, one-out situation. Mattingly ordered up an intentional pass to Ian Stewart, at which point Coffey stopped the bleeding, striking out Barney and getting Geovany Soto to fly out to center.