The Dodgers had all the reasons to let one go in Wrigley Field on Thursday. They fell apart in the ninth and lost the Yankees at home on Wednesday, they didn't arrive in Chicago until 7:30 a.m., they gave up four home runs to the Cubs and faced an early 2-0 deficit.
And yet, despite all that was going against them, they still found a way to win. And that's why they're up by 3 1/2 games in the NL West.
A three-run sixth inning, led by a big pinch-hit two-run single by Jerry Hairston, paved the way for the Dodgers to down the Cubs, 6-4. That's now 11 straight wins on the road, the most the Dodgers have done since 1955, which is simply incredible.
The game didn't start off so hot, as Ricky Nolasco ran into trouble via the long ball. With one out, Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo went back-to-back on solo shots for the 2-0 lead. That wouldn't be the last you'd hear from these boys.
The Dodgers tied it up in the third, and it all started on a walk to Yasiel Puig with one out. Adrian Gonzalez followed with a single. Hanley Ramirez then smashed a two-run double to knot the game at 2-2.
That lead would quickly evaporate, as Lake once again hit a solo tater, his fourth in only 15 games, to put the Cubs back up at 3-2.
In the sixth, the Dodgers took the lead and never looked back. Leading off, Scott Van Slyke singled and Mark Ellis walked, and both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Tim Federowicz.
Hairston got the call from Don Mattingly to hit for Nolasco, and on the first pitch he saw from Michael Bowden, singled up the middle to score two, and the Dodgers were back in the lead at 4-3. Puig soon doubled, and Gonzalez's single to center scored Hairston, but Puig was thrown at home, keeping the score at 5-3.
J.P. Howell and Chris Withrow were able to get through the sixth and seventh unscathed, which led to Paco Rodriguez pitching the eighth. Once again, Rizzo left his mark with his 17th homer to make it 5-4. About the only good news was that all four homers were solo shots, giving the Dodgers a chance they capitalized on.
Puig put the Dodgers back up by two by golfing a solo shot into left center to make it 6-4. Kenley Jansen didn't even need that, striking out the side in the ninth for his 15th save.
As I pointed out before, I don't think anyone would've blamed the Dodgers if they lost this one. It's not like they were playing the Tigers or Rays here, as the Cubs are still lowly and pathetic. But still, a win a day after playing on the opposite coast is tough, so kudos to the Dodgers for getting it done.
Nolasco started off rough with the two homers in the first, but ended up throwing five innings for four hits, three runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. The bullpen was great once again, as Howell, Withrow, Rodriguez, and Jansen combined for four inning of one-run ball, which was the homer by Rizzo, along with six strikeouts. All four of those guys have ERA's in the 2's, which is awesome.
The four-game set continues on Friday afternoon as Hyun-Jin Ryu takes on Travis Wood, who was the lone All-Star for the Cubs.