CHICAGO – Junior Lake wouldn’t say if he’s here to stay. It’s hard to envision him being sent back to the minors, not with the way he’s hitting.
Lake became the first Cubs player to collect four hits twice in his first 16 major league games since at least 1916, and he once again was the lone bright spot for the Cubs in a 6-2 loss to the surging Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
“I don’t make the decision,” he said through an interpreter.
Actually, he might be doing just that.
It would be hard to justify sending Lake back to Triple-A anytime soon. After all, his average is at .358 since he got called up July 19 and he’s the first major leaguer since St. Louis’ Bo Hart in 2003 to collect four hits twice in his first 16 games.
Even with another eye-popping performance, though, the Cubs lost for the fifth time in six games.
Mark Ellis extended his hitting streak to 13 games before both he and manager Don Mattingly were ejected, and the Dodgers matched an 89-year-old club record with their 12th straight road victory.
Ellis doubled and scored in the third inning before being tossed by plate umpire Alan Porter when he and Mattingly argued a called third strike in the fourth, but that didn’t stop the Dodgers from improving to 12-2 since the All-Star break.
The NL West leaders remained unbeaten on the road since a loss at San Francisco on July 6 and matched the 1924 Brooklyn Robins for the longest streak in franchise history.
“It’s pretty special,” said Nick Punto, who had two hits and drove in two runs. “Pretty cool. Since 1924 someone was saying. That’s really cool. This is a really special team.”
Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig each added a pair of hits and scored a run for the Dodgers.
Los Angeles took control early, scoring two in the third and two more in the fourth while building a 5-1 lead and chasing All-Star Travis Wood (7-8).
That was enough for Hyun-Jin Ryu (10-3), who became the first Dodgers rookie to win 10 games since Kazuhisa Ishii in 2002. The left-hander matched a season high by allowing 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings but held Chicago to just two runs. He also struck out six without a walk.
Wood lasted just 3 1-3 innings in his shortest outing of the year, allowing five runs and seven hits. He threw 96 pitches and walked a season-high five, including four in a row in the third to force in the inning’s second run after back-to-back doubles by Ellis and Punto and make it 3-1.
Was Porter squeezing him?
“No. I felt like I was just missing,” Wood said.
The Dodgers added to their lead in the fourth after Ellis and Mattingly got tossed.
Ryu had just led off with a single when Ellis got called out on a 3-2 pitch. He threw his bat a few feet and raised his arms, leading to an ejection by Porter, and then slammed his helmet in disgust.
“It should never happen,” Ellis said. “It’s embarrassing to get thrown out of a game, especially when there was no reason for it.”
His manager wound up getting thrown out for the third time this season and bumping into Porter as the argument continued. Mattingly thought the umpire actually walked into him.
“I felt like he did,” Mattingly said. “I didn’t feel like I was going forward. I’m sure the video will show. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going forward. I feel OK about that.”
NOTES: President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said July was a winning month for the Cubs, and he wasn’t talking just about their 14-13 record. They beefed up their farm system by trading away Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza and signing draft picks and international players. “It was a good month,” Epstein said. “For people who are wanting things to go well in the organization, looking for progress, they can see the progress, seize onto it. It’s a time for hope and optimism. That applies to all of us. It was easier to come to work the last few days than it was a couple months ago. It’s an important time to remind everyone, remind ourselves, that the progress isn’t linear. There are going to be other really bad months.”... Mattingly said pitcher Stephen Fife, on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis, will “chuck” for Triple-A Albuquerque or in Chicago on Sunday. If Fife is with Albuquerque, he would presumably pitch. But Mattingly was a bit evasive when asked if Fife would throw on the side or pitch in a game on Sunday if he’s in Chicago. Zack Greinke is scheduled to start that day for the Dodgers, and Mattingly said, “Right now we’re in line.” ... Former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit and a walk in his first appearance at Wrigley Field after being dealt to the Dodgers a month ago.