LOS ANGELES -- A grounder from Adrián González, a foot race won by Corey Seager and a run scored by Andrew Toles were the difference in a 1-0 victory for the Dodgers over the Cubs on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, a contest that legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said "all
LOS ANGELES -- A grounder from Adrián González, a foot race won by Corey Seager and a run scored by Andrew Toles were the difference in a 1-0 victory for the Dodgers over the Cubs on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, a contest that legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said "all boiled down to a whisper, a toenail, a 'toe dance' around second base."
With the game in a scoreless tie going into the bottom of the eighth inning, Toles got aboard on a hit-by-pitch from Trevor Cahill, then advanced to third when Howie Kendrick reached base on Cahill's throwing error.
After intentionally walking Seager, Cubs manager Joe Maddon pulled Cahill for Carl Edwards Jr. The right-hander did his job, striking out Justin Turner and inducing a grounder from Gonzalez to third baseman Javier Báez. However, Baez made an inadvisable throw to second, leading to a race to the bag between second baseman Ben Zobrist and Seager. Seager was called safe, Toles scored, and the tie was broken.
Scully analyzed the play with his trademark grace and attention to detail.
"Javier Baez handling the ground ball, but the problem was the second baseman, Zobrist, was five feet into right field. By the time Zobrist got to the bag, the throw was late.
"That was the problem -- the fact that you can't have a second baseman playing so far away and then ask him to get to the bag. It was a foot race between Seager and Zobrist. They were really foot-to-foot. It was that close! ... For [second-base umpire] Alfonso Marquez, a tough call. They don't get much tougher than that.
"After all this battling, it comes down to a 'toe dance' at second base."
Maddon added: "The mental mistake at second base, that just something that needs to be communicated before the ball is hit. [Zobrist] is way over and he can't get there on time. Give Seager credit for a great hustle play on his part. Otherwise, man, what a game."
Jon Lester and Brock Stewart spent the majority of the game locked in a scoreless pitchers' duel. Lester registered his sixth straight quality start with six shutout innings and now holds a 2.01 ERA in eight starts since the All Star Break.
Stewart turned in the best start of his young career, allowing just two hits and struck out eight in five innings against one of baseball's most prolific offenses. The rookie entered the game with an 11.25 ERA and began the season with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga.
"We believed in Brock," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Sometimes people have to look inside the numbers and understand what this kid's gone through this year. We felt he would go out there and compete and that's exactly what he did against a very good club. Fastball, slider, change, he was really throwing each of those pitches with conviction. A young kid like that to be on a stage like this, this is playoff baseball."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Shutting them out: With runners on the corners and Grant Dayton pitching to Jason Heyward in the sixth inning, Gonzalez saved a run when he reeled in a Statcast-measured 103-mph line drive from Heyward. Roberts said after the game he didn't even see the ball off the bat.
"Just trying to go up on Heyward and I guess I didn't get it high enough," Dayton said. "Holy cow, I didn't even have time to think, I just looked over there and the ball was already there and the out was made. Fired me up, fired everybody up to get out of that situation."
Seager also shined defensively in addition to his hustle play to make a run count, catching a ball with his bare hand after he and second baseman Charlie Culberson collided for a pop fly in the eighth. Then in the ninth, he denied Baez redemption when he made a back-handed play and long throw to first for the second out of the inning. More >
No love lost: Stewart grew up in Normal, Ill., 130 miles south of Chicago, but the rookie grew up a White Sox fan. He swapped scoreless innings with Lester for more than half the game, but the tipping point for his outing might have been his first career hit, a line drive to left off the southpaw in the third inning. More >
"It's kinda surreal to be honest. It's a lot of satisfaction. I just hope to be good as [Lester] some day," Stewart said. "Overall, it was basically just trusting the stuff, that it's good enough to get guys out at this level. Fastball was good, felt good coming out and I was able to command that pretty well. Threw some really good changeups and a few good sliders."
Road warrior: Kris Bryant doubled to lead off the Chicago sixth, extending his hit streak to 10 games, but was left stranded. He then singled to open the eighth, and again, did not score. Bryant enjoyed the West Coast trip, going 15-for-36 with five home runs, two doubles and 11 RBIs in nine games.
"The guy is definitely on fire," Maddon said of Bryant, who is batting .488 in his 10-game hit streak.
Farewell tour: This is Cubs catcher David Ross' final season, and he started Sunday in what is most likely his last game at Dodger Stadium, facing the team that drafted him in 1988. Ross, who played for the Dodgers from 2002-04, won't want to remember the first inning. Kendrick walked, and Lester struck out the next two batters. But Ross threw to first, trying to pick off Kendrick, and his throw sailed into right field for his career-high ninth error. He then struck out to end the game. More >
"It was a blast -- it was good to be back and great energy here," said Ross, who had dinner with Roberts on Saturday night.
"There's worse spots to be in -- 14 games up in almost September is not a bad spot to be. I thought we played good baseball today. We pitched really well, extremely well. Just a couple mistakes that we'll learn from, which is good. That's all you can ask for. I thought we played really, really good baseball. We have to get a guy in from third the last two days -- that may have cost us a 'W' here or there but that's baseball." -- Ross
With the bases loaded and two outs in the Dodgers' eighth, Gonzalez hit a grounder to third baseman Baez, who threw to Zobrist at second for the force on Seager, who was called safe. The Cubs challenged the ruling, but after a review, the call stood.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta will open the Cubs' homestand Monday night against the Pirates. Arrieta leads the National Leage in wins (16) and is 6-3 with a 2.18 ERA at home. He's 9-2 with a 1.99 ERA against the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT from Wrigley Field.
Dodgers: Many pitchers have struggled at Coors Field, but the Rockies' park hasn't been a problem yet for Kenta Maeda, who holds a 1.50 ERA in two starts there. The right-hander will take the mound Monday at 5:40 p.m. PT.
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Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.