Following a thrilling comeback victory, the Los Angeles Dodgers look to win four straight games for the first time since the opening week of the season when they continue their weekend series against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
In the series opener, the Dodgers (28-20) led 5-1 through six innings before the Cubs (21-25) scored seven times in the seventh. Chicago’s bullpen, though, faltered again as Los Angeles scored four times in the bottom of the eighth to win 9-8.
“We gave it back to them, but we battled,” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. “It’s good to see us swing the bats the way we did, but the bullpen didn’t get the job done. We scored off of their bullpen and they scored off of ours. It got a little bit out of hand in the eighth.”
“It was real good to see us win one that nearly slipped away,” Los Angeles manager Grady Little said. “That means a lot and says a lot for our ballclub.”
The NL West-leading Dodgers have bounced back following a season-high four-game skid, but have not won four consecutive games since April 4-8.
Jeff Kent homered, doubled and drove in four runs in the opener. He has three home runs, four doubles and eight RBIs in his last six games.
Rafael Furcal extended his season-high hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single during the eighth-inning rally. Furcal is batting .481 (25-for-52) during his run, but is only 3-for-20 in his career against Saturday’s starter Carlos Zambrano (4-4, 5.61 ERA).
The inconsistent Zambrano allowed one run and six hits in eight innings of a 10-1 win over the New York Mets on May 15, but followed that up by getting tagged for a season-high seven runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Zambrano, who tied the NL lead with 16 wins a year ago, has been hurt by the big inning this season. In three of his last four starts, the right-hander has given up at least three runs in one inning.
Although Zambrano is enduring an up-and-down season, he has been outstanding in his career against Los Angeles.
In his only start against the Dodgers last year, he allowed one run and four hits in six innings of a 2-1 victory on April 18, but didn’t factor in the decision. As a starter when facing them, Zambrano is 1-1 with a 0.93 ERA in four starts, giving up just three earned runs in 29 innings.
Mark Hendrickson (2-1, 3.22) will try to bounce back from his first loss of the season for Los Angeles. Filling in for the injured Jason Schmidt, who is on the disabled list with a right bursa sac inflammation, Hendrickson got off to a fast start, but has since cooled off.
He went 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in his first three starts, but is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in his last three. The left-hander allowed season highs of six runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
Hendrickson, who has pitched in 149 games with Toronto, Tampa Bay and the Dodgers, will make his first career start against the Cubs.