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Verdugo clubs 421-foot HR in Wrigley slugfest

Bellinger hits 12th homer for Dodgers before Cubs' 6-run sixth
@kengurnick
April 25, 2019

CHICAGO -- He's not yet in double digits like teammates Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, but Alex Verdugo is blossoming into more of a home run hitter in the Major Leagues than he ever was as MLB Pipeline's top Dodgers prospect. Verdugo slugged his fourth home run in Wednesday night's

CHICAGO -- He's not yet in double digits like teammates Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, but Alex Verdugo is blossoming into more of a home run hitter in the Major Leagues than he ever was as MLB Pipeline's top Dodgers prospect.

Verdugo slugged his fourth home run in Wednesday night's 7-6 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, a three-run, 421-foot blast in the eighth inning that gave the Dodgers life after they fell behind by four runs.

"It just shows how this team keeps coming at you and doesn't quit," Verdugo said. "We have so many good players who can start or come off the bench to push the game a little closer."

In six professional seasons, Verdugo's high for home runs is 13, with Double-A Tulsa in 2016. He's seen only sporadic playing time this year, but he's still on pace to hit 25 home runs, and the playing time is bound to be less sporadic and more regular if he continues like this.

Bellinger, Pederson, Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Verdugo give the Dodgers a stack of left-handed hitters like this organization has never seen, but the current series against the Cubs demonstrates how that cuts both ways. The Cubs are starting only left-handers to neutralize some of those lefty hitters -- specifically keeping Pederson, Muncy and Verdugo out of the starting lineup.

The result has been a pair of losses, although Wednesday night's couldn't have been closer. The Dodgers gave starting pitcher Walker Buehler a three-run lead, two on Bellinger's 12th home run that chased Cole Hamels. Bellinger's .424 average, .891 slugging percentage, 28 runs scored and 39 hits lead the Major Leagues.

"This didn't feel like April. It felt like later in the season," Bellinger said of the back-and-forth game. "We need these kinds of games."

Hamels walked six in 5 1/3 innings, but only one of the walks came around the score.

"I thought we had a great plan," manager Dave Roberts said. "He attacks the strike zone. For Cole, it was a grind. It's a credit to him to almost get through six innings. But our game plan, extending at-bats, taking walks, fouling balls off -- I feel we did an outstanding job tonight."

The Cubs turned the game around in the six-run sixth inning with a pair of two-out, three-run homers -- Javier Baez on an 0-2 slider from Buehler, Jason Heyward on a sinker that didn't sink from Scott Alexander for a 6-3 lead.

Struggling Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly allowed a two-out run in the seventh inning by hitting Kris Bryant with a pitch and serving up an RBI double to Anthony Rizzo for a 7-3 lead. Verdugo's three-run homer off Steve Cishek in the eighth finished the scoring. It was Verdugo's third three-RBI game this season. He has 16 RBIs, tied with Pederson for second behind Bellinger's 30.

"One through nine we've got a bunch of guys that are aggressive but will take their walks," Bellinger said. "We're hard to pitch to."

In the 10 games Verdugo has started, the Dodgers are 7-3.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.