Dodgers 8, Cubs 5
“Until that game is over, we’re not thinking we’re going to lose the game,” Finley said. “We’re up there battling every trip. That’s what good teams do. Good teams don’t give up, and they keep coming out. (In) 2001 with Arizona, that’s what we did.”
Finley hit a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning, and Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green homered in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. Milton Bradley drove in two runs in the eighth for Los Angeles, which held on to a 6 1/2 -game lead in the NL West.
Corey Patterson hit a two-run homer, and Ramon Martinez and Michael Barrett each hit solo shots for Chicago, which dropped into a tie with San Diego in the NL wild-card race—less than a percentage point ahead of San Francisco.
Trailing 5-3 in the eighth, the Dodgers scored five runs against Chicago’s bullpen.
Green led off with a single off Kent Mercker and was relieved by Kyle Farnsworth (4-4), who got pinch-hitter Jose Hernandez to line out, but walked pinch-hitter Robin Ventura and hit Alex Cora with a pitch to load the bases.
Jon Leicester gave up a sacrifice fly to Olmedo Saenz, and Izturis tied it with an RBI single. Finley followed with another single to right off Glendon Rusch, scoring Cora and giving the Dodgers the lead. Bradley followed a two-run single to give the Dodgers an 8-5 lead.
The Dodgers spoiled a strong start by Cubs starter Mark Prior.
“Trust me, I have had my fair share of bad starts and the bullpen has picked me up,” Prior said. “It’s just a tough game for us to swallow as a team.”
Farnsworth has given up five earned runs in his last four appearances, and has been booed loudly by the Cubs fans. Manager Dusty Baker is concerned that the negative reaction from the fans is affecting Farnsworth’s performance.
“You worry about it, but he’s the only one that can change it through his performance,” Baker said.
“When you come back like that for a five-spot in the eighth inning, it’s really good,” Gagne said. “It tells you a lot about our team chemistry.”
Prior allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out a season-high nine batters and walked two.
The Dodgers battled Prior with every at-bat and pushed his pitch-count higher.
“If he’s retiring a number of people on first- or second-pitch outs, then quite possibly Mark Prior is still standing out there in the ninth inning pitching,” Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
Prior wasn’t surprised by the Dodgers’ at-bats.
“You know that coming in to face the Dodgers, they’re a team that battles and puts the ball in play,” he said. “That’s what makes them so tough.”
Leading 5-2 in the seventh, Prior and the Cubs got into trouble. After Cora led off with a single, Prior struck out pinch-hitter Jason Grabowski, but then gave up a single to Izturis and walked Finley to load the bases. Prior was relieved by Mercker, who got Bradley to hit into an RBI fielder’s choice, making it 5-3. Mercker ended the inning by striking out Beltre.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the third. Martinez homered on a 1-1 pitch from Jose Lima leading off the inning. Martinez was playing in place of Aramis Ramirez, who’s resting a sore right groin. Two outs later, Mark Grudzielanek doubled and scored on Nomar Garciaparra’s bloop single to center.
Beltre led off the fourth with a home run, his 33rd—breaking Pedro Guerrero’s team record for most by a Dodgers third baseman.
In the fifth, Prior singled off Lima and Patterson followed with a two-run homer to left-center, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead. It was his 15th of the season, setting a new career high for homers in a season.
Barrett set a career high for homers in the sixth inning when he homered to the left-field bleachers in the sixth for his 13th.
Green hit a solo shot in the sixth to make it 5-2.
Lima pitched six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits for the Dodgers.
Ramirez has sat out three straight games and is day to day. … Cubs closer LaTroy Hawkins sat out the third game of a three-game suspension. … Before the game, the Dodgers placed RHP Brad Penny on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right biceps. Los Angeles purchased the contract of left-handed reliever Mike Venafro from Triple-A Las Vegas. … Cubs 1B Derrek Lee made a nice snag on Izturis’ hard grounder in the fifth. … Cubs LF Moises Alou was ejected in the seventh by first-base umpire Rob Drake. … Bradley left the game in the eighth inning after he tweaked a hamstring.