LOS ANGELES – The National League Championship Series is hardly the ideal time for a team to need so many fixes.
That’s where the Cubs found themselves heading into Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday night at Dodgers Stadium.
They left having played an overall solid game, but still lacking as the Los Angeles Dodgers walked off with a win in the bottom of the ninth.
Justin Turner hit a three-run homer to center field off John Lackey, giving the Dodgers a dramatic 4-1 victory.
The Cubs come home down two games to none in the best-of-seven series.
Game 3 is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Yasiel Puig led off the ninth inning with a walk against Cubs lefty Brian Duensing.
Charlie Culberson bunted Puig to second. Pinch hitter Kyle Farmer struck out, prompting Cubs manager Joe Maddon to bring in Lackey. Chris Taylor walked, setting up Turner’s blast.
Starting pitcher Jon Lester, coming off a 55-pitch relief performance Wednesday in Game 4 of the division series, gutted out 42/3 innings against the Dodgers, throwing 103 pitches and giving up a run.
Reliever Carl Edwards Jr., who has been beleaguered of late, came on in relief of Lester and struck out three in 11/3 innings, with his breaking ball looking much crisper.
Lester hooked up in another battle of left-handers with the Dodgers throwing former Cub Rich Hill. Walks got Lester into trouble in the second and third innings, but nothing came of it.
Addison Russell, who has become quite the postseason hitter for the Cubs, broke a scoreless tie in the fifth when he lined a home run to left field. That gave Russell five RBIs for the postseason. He also has a pair of doubles.
The Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. No. 8 hitter Culberson, filling in for the injured Corey Seager, doubled to left-center leading off.
Two outs later, Turner grounded a single into right field, past diving first baseman Anthony Rizzo, to tie the score.
After Lester walked Cody Bellinger, Edwards came in to pitch, and he struck out pinch hitter Chase Utley.
The Cubs have little time or margin to fix things, especially an offense that is not hitting. They have faced good pitching, both from Washington in the NLDS and the Dodgers in the NLCS, but Maddon wants to see a return to form.
Case in point is Javy Baez, who was 0 for 17 in the postseason entering Sunday.
“Of course, we need to hit right now,” Maddon said. “We score 10 runs in five games and nine in one since we started this playoff run. That’s an average of two runs in five games. That’s very difficult.
“Javy loves this time of the year. He is just pulling off everything right now. We’ve got to get him back to the middle of the field somehow.”
Baez isn’t the only one not hitting. Kris Bryant and Rizzo continue to struggle.
Pedro Strop worked a scoreless seventh for the Cubs, walking one.
The Dodgers’ eighth started with Bellinger rolling one toward Rizzo at first.
Duensing, who just entered the game, covered the bag but dropped the ball.
The play was scored as a hit.
Joc Pederson bunted Bellinger to second, and the Cubs intentionally walked Logan Forsythe.
The move worked out as Austin Barnes grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Cubs had a shot in the top of the ninth. Rizzo was hit by a pitch from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Willson Contreras struck out, giving the Cubs 12 for the game, and Albert Almora Jr. bounced out to short to end the inning.