CHICAGO (AP) About the only thing the Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t mastered in the NL West pennant race is the art of the comeback.
That is until Thursday night at Wrigley Field.
Dee Gordon and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier hit RBI doubles in Los Angeles’ five-run seventh inning, and the Dodgers rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4 to extend their division lead.
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The Dodgers trailed 4-1 heading into the seventh, but six of their eight hitters reached base against reliever Neil Ramirez with five hits and an error.
Los Angeles rebounded to win for only the second time this season – against 54 losses – when trailing after six innings.
”It honestly didn’t look very good early,” manager Don Mattingly said, ”but at this point in the season it doesn’t matter what happens to you. If you walk away with a `W’ you feel good about it.”
Cubs rookie second baseman Logan Watkins couldn’t handle Juan Uribe’s hard-hit grounder with one out. That allowed the first run of the rally to score on a fielder’s choice. Los Angeles scored all the runs in the inning against Ramirez (2-3), but only one was earned.
The Dodgers moved 2 1-2 games ahead of idle San Francisco in the NL West.
Los Angeles overcame a shaky start by Zack Greinke, who allowed four runs in five innings. Paco Rodriguez (1-0), the first of four Dodgers relievers, pitched a scoreless sixth to earn the win.
”It wasn’t the sharpest, that’s for sure,” Greinke said of his start. ”I guess it is pretty darned big, because by the fifth inning it didn’t look very good. To pull it out was almost like stealing a win.”
Eight Dodgers had one RBI each.
”It happened really quickly,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. ”They hit a couple balls hard, but there were a couple plays we could have made.”
Cubs rookie Jorge Soler had two hits and drove in two runs to increase his RBI total to 17 in 16 games. Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt also drove in runs.
Greinke failed to tie his career high with 16 wins. He struggled to find his rhythm early, and left after allowing nine hits and throwing 112 pitches.
Chicago starter Tsuyoshi Wada pitched five solid innings, allowing one run and five hits, and finishing with five strikeouts. He faced just nine hitters in the first three innings.
After the game, Wada, a 33-year-old left-hander from Japan, learned it was his final start of his first major league season
”Looking back, personally, I feel that I had a good year when you consider I didn’t have any major league numbers,” he said through a translator.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first when their first four hitters reached base, with Valbuena and Soler lining RBI singles.
The Dodgers cut it to 2-1 in the fifth when Scott Van Slyke scored on A.J. Ellis’ ground out.
The Cubs used four straight singles and a sacrifice fly by Olt to add two runs in the fifth. Among the hits was a grounder by Valbuena that slipped under Gordon’s glove at second base.
The Dodgers tacked on a run in the eighth on Drew Butera’s bases-loaded walk, and one in the ninth on Matt Kemp’s sacrifice fly.
Dodgers: SS Hanley Ramirez returned to the starting lineup after missing two games due to a strained right elbow. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu was expected to rejoin the Dodgers on Thursday, but Mattingly wouldn’t predict when he will return to the rotation. Ryu, 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA this season, received a cortisone injection in his sore left shoulder on Monday.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo (strained lower back) was available as a pinch-hitter. Rizzo, second in the NL with 31 homers, missed 18 games before returning Monday and hitting a walk-off, ninth inning shot in Chicago’s 1-0 win over Cincinnati. Rizzo was rested on Tuesday, but started Wednesday. … INF/OF Arismendy Alcantara (sprained right wrist) took part in batting practice, but remains day to day.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (19-3, 1.70) tries to become the first 20-game winner in the majors this season – and reach that mark for the second time in his career – when he faces Chicago RHP Edwin Jackson (6-14, 6.09) on Friday. Kershaw was 21-5 in 2011.
Jackson will make his first start since Aug. 20 (strained right lat), an 8-3 loss at San Francisco when he allowed seven runs in 2 2-3 innings.
DOWN THE STRETCH
As the Dodgers shorten their rotation for the postseason, it will include Kershaw, Greinke and …
Mattingly didn’t rule out Ryu being back in the rotation next week, but wasn’t specific. ”It’s going to be a few days, but we’re going to get him back, Mattingly said. ”Monday would be a stretch.”
Ryu left his start last Friday in San Francisco after one inning, complaining of tightness and pain in his shoulder. He said the injury felt similar to one that landed him on the disabled list earlier this season. Tests revealed only inflammation.