LOS ANGELES -- In a marquee pitching matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Lester, it was all about the hitting. Rookie Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig each homered for the Dodgers in a 9-4 victory Sunday to complete a sweep of the Cubs, who belted three
LOS ANGELES -- In a marquee pitching matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Lester, it was all about the hitting. Rookie Cody Bellinger, Kiké Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig each homered for the Dodgers in a 9-4 victory Sunday to complete a sweep of the Cubs, who belted three home runs of their own.
If someone had told Cubs manager Joe Maddon that both Kershaw and Lester would struggle, and the two teams would combine for 22 hits off the power lefties, he wouldn't have believed them.
"It sounds like fiction to me, but it happened," Maddon said. "I have not seen [Kershaw] like that. We were on him. It's just one of those days. Both of them are very good, they're outstanding and neither one had a good day and [the Dodgers] got us."
Both Lester and Kershaw had their shortest outings of the season. Kershaw served up three homers for the second time this year, throwing 109 pitches over 4 1/3 innings. In fact, Kershaw was the only Dodgers pitcher to allow run the series.
The Dodgers' bullpen entered the game with a 2.81 ERA, the lowest in the National League, and they stifled the Cubs after Kershaw exited, striking out six without allowing a hit.
"Their bullpen, it felt like every pitch was right there at the top of the strike zone," said Kristopher Bryant. "Every single one to all of us. It was unbelievable."
Lester, who was coming off his first complete game of the season, was gone after 3 1/3 innings. The Cubs lefty served up a pair of three-run homers for the second time in his career. He also did so Aug. 20, 2010, against the Blue Jays.
"I think it was billed that it was going to be a pitchers' duel," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think we're a pretty good hitting ballclub, as are they, but two good guys took the mound, the ball was flying."
Bellinger hit the Dodgers' first homer on Sunday, giving them a 3-1 lead in the second and becoming the fastest player in club history to reach 10 career home runs, doing so in his 31st game.
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The Cubs were shut out in the first two games of the series, and totaled five hits. They had 11 hits on Sunday, including home runs by Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo.
At 108.7 mph, Rizzo's home run was the hardest-hit ball off Kershaw this season, according to Statcast™. The Cubs have not driven in a run on a hit other than a homer in the last week.
"We have to become more efficient moving the baseball," Maddon said. "That's a malady that not only affects us, but other teams' young hitters. You have to get to the point where you just move the baseball, make adjustments, [hit to the] middle of the field, opposite field."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Twice as nice: The Dodgers posted their second straight three-spot in the third, with Hernandez's three-run shot giving the Dodgers a 6-1 lead. According to Statcast™, the home run traveled 414 feet and had an exit velocity of 108 mph.
Staying ahead: Puig, who was not in the starting lineup but pinch-hit in the first inning after Franklin Gutierrez was pulled with an illness, put the game out reach with his two-run homer in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 9-4 advantage. Puig's shot was projected to travel 450 feet, his longest in the Statcast™ era. He also made an impressive catch in foul territory to erase Rizzo in the sixth.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Contreras hit his fifth homer of the season after a 12-pitch at-bat against Kershaw in the second. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the last Cubs player to go deep after a 12-pitch at-bat was Mike Fontenot, who homered on the 12th pitch of his at-bat, April 27, 2009, off the D-backs' Dan Haren.
"We just have to play for today. You can't worry about [going on] a run, you can't worry about showing up and trying to go nine [innings] before you throw the first pitch, you can't worry about trying to go 3-for-4 before your first at-bat. You can't worry about [going on] a run, you can't make runs happen. You can't make anything happen in this game. We have a good team. It's just a matter of showing up day in and day out and putting our work in. It'll come, it'll click. We've had little spurts, and that's been great. We just have to worry about tomorrow and go from there." -- Lester
"It's huge to sweep. If you look at the homestand, some pretty good ballclubs that we played well against. … The Cubs are the current world champions, and to play well against those guys, there's a little validation there, I guess." -- Roberts
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cubs had runners at first and second in the first when Rizzo hit a grounder to short and the Dodgers tried to turn two. They got the force at second, and Rizzo was called out at first, but the Cubs challenged the ruling, and the call was overturned after a review.
Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will open the Cubs' three-game series against the Padres on Monday. The right-hander notched his third straight quality start in his last outing, a win over the Giants in which he went a season-high seven innings. He's 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in his last six starts. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. CT.
Dodgers: The Dodgers hit the road for seven games, beginning with a four-game series against the Cardinals. Rich Hill will start Monday's opener and try to bounce back from his previous start against the Cardinals, when he issued a career-high seven walks. First pitch is slated for 11:15 a.m. PT.
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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.
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.