Dodgers tie club HR record, but 'pen falters
Los Angeles ties team mark for most homers in a month with 53
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' power surge continued Thursday, as they tied the franchise record for homers in a single month behind their ace, Clayton Kershaw, who delivered a vintage performance. But for just the third time this month, Los Angeles lost a game in which it produced a home run, falling 11-5 to the Cubs at Dodger Stadium.
Third baseman Justin Turner blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Dodgers their 53rd this month, matching the club record set last June, but the effort wasn't enough.
First baseman Player Page for Max Muncy provided the muscle for the Dodgers early, belting his 17th home run of the season -- and 10th this month -- off Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the third inning. A pair of RBI hits from Enrique Hernandez had Los Angeles in the driver's seat behind Kershaw's stellar outing halfway through the contest.
Kershaw tossed five innings, allowing one run on four hits without permitting any walks. He struck out six batters. It was perhaps as positive a development as the Dodgers had hoped.
"It felt good," Kershaw said. "Today was a good step."
However, Kershaw's step forward unraveled into a swift fall for the Dodgers as the Cubs rallied as soon as the lefty exited the game.
Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, who was activated from the disabled list earlier Thursday, made his return to the mound. Los Angeles elected to have the rookie work back into form at the Major League level instead of in the Minors, and Chicago took advantage.
"You're handing the ball to Walker Buehler," manager Dave Roberts said. "I felt pretty good about it."
Buehler, who had been out with a microfractured rib, entered the contest with the Dodgers ahead by two runs. By the time he was replaced -- following one-plus innings in which he surrendered five runs on five hits and a walk -- Chicago had jumped ahead. His replacement, right-hander Erik Goeddel, was charged with four runs, as the Cubs tallied four hits, including a two-run homer by shortstop Addison Russell, to cap off a seven-run seventh to take a 10-3 advantage.
Buehler took ownership of his outing, noting that he struggled with his location throughout the game, an issue that plagued him last season.
"Just some bad pitches to good hitters," Buehler said.
Chicago finished 7-for-11 with runners in scoring position, making the most of its opportunities to spur its comeback.
"You have to give credit to those guys over there," Roberts said. "They squared them up, they took good at-bats."
Kershaw said he didn't consider Buehler's outing to be a nightmare. He chalked it up to simply being a bad day for the young righty, who had arrived in Los Angeles Thursday morning to make his first appearance since June 8.
"I think it's a good team," Kershaw said. "Sometimes that stuff happens."
In a rematch of the past two National League Championship Series, the Cubs won the regular-season head-to-head matchup, 4-3. With the loss, the Dodgers dropped to 43-37 on the season, falling 3 1/2 games behind the D-backs for first place in the National League West.
Despite the result, the Dodgers could very well be on their way towards trending in the right direction, with the health of Kershaw the main reason for such a sentiment.
"When you have your horse throw the way he did," said Roberts, "and to know that we can build him up and build on this start, that's probably the most important thing for our club. This loss doesn't feel good, but I think the bigger picture is very good for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hernandez on fire: Hernandez, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, gave the Dodgers the lead during the second inning when he brought catcher Austin Barnes home with an RBI single. In the fourth, he drove another run in with a run-scoring double into the gap in right-center, extending Los Angeles' lead to 3-1.
Hernandez, who saw increased playing time during the absence of shortstop Chris Taylor, has been hot of late. In his last 16 games, he's hitting .345 (19-for-55) with six home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.128 OPS.
Kershaw did not factor into the decision Thursday, marking the deepest into a season the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner has pitched without picking up a second win since his rookie year in 2008. That season, 74 days went by before Kershaw notched his second career victory.
HE SAID IT
"It's really no longer a surprise. He's having good at-bats." -- Roberts, on Muncy hitting his 17th home run and 10th this month
Left-hander Rich Hill (1-2, 5.30 ERA) will start for the Dodgers on Friday as they begin a three-game series against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium. This will be Hill's first start at Chavez Ravine since May 13. Colorado will counter with lefty Tyler Anderson. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.