Cubs’ Hendricks looks to pull plug on Dodgers’ power

LOS ANGELES — At 48 home runs this month and counting, the Los Angeles Dodgers are closing in fast on a franchise record that, while impressive, has not been around all that long.

In June of last season, buoyed by the arrival of slugging first baseman Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers hit 53 home runs. No Dodgers team had hit that many before the calendar turned a page, although the 1953 team did hit 49 home runs in two separate months.

Poised to slow the Dodgers’ current home run train is the Chicago CubsKyle Hendricks, who will pitch Wednesday in the third game of the current series. It is the second series in two weeks between the participants of last year’s National League Championship Series.

If he needs a model to follow, Jon Lester’s outing Tuesday would be a good one. Lester went five innings and the Cubs did not allow a long ball to the powerful Dodgers lineup in a 9-4 victory.

The Dodgers’ power explosion has been particularly impressive considering that not too many balls were flying out of the park early in the season. The Dodgers hit 25 home runs in March/April and 31 in May. Now this.

“Our lineup is built to slug,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We have guys that can hit a homer, doesn’t matter where they hit in the lineup. But everyone is capitalizing on the mistakes and taking the pitches when they need to.”

For Hendricks, he has given up three home runs in four June starts and 14 already this season. The most he has ever given up in a season is 17 in both 2015 and 2017.

Of more concern for Hendricks is that the Cubs have lost four of his last five starts. On Thursday at Cincinnati, he lasted just 5 2/3 innings and the Cubs lost the first of four consecutive games against the Reds. The right-hander has given up 13 June runs. He is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three regular season starts against the Dodgers.

“I’ve got to stick with what I’m doing,” Hendricks said, according to MLB.com. “I felt better (Thursday). I made better pitches. I convicted the pitches. The last inning, I wasn’t repeating my mechanics, got out of it. Before that, everything was good.”

It was not that long ago when Dodgers starter Alex Wood was trying to find some consistency. But a mechanical adjustment on the club’s previous homestand, along with the resolution of leg cramps that affected some of his early-season starts have changed his fortunes.

Wood has won each of his last two starts, including an outing Friday against the New York Mets when he gave up two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts. He is 2-2 lifetime against the Cubs with a 2.93 ERA in eight games (five starts).

While the Dodgers have been slugging their way back to respectability this month, the Cubs have been in a prolonged offensive funk. But the tide appeared to turn Tuesday.

Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis held a meeting with the position players Tuesday afternoon and the club’s hitters went out and scored nine runs with 15 hits on Tuesday.

“Around the (batting practice) cage I have been talking to some of the guys and had some really good conversations,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But with Chili today, he wanted to talk to the guys about (things) specifically.”