Dodgers 4, Cubs 0: Back To Reality

Harry How

You didn't really think the Cubs could win two straight games in Dodger Stadium, did you?

Dale Sveum got himself ejected from Wednesday's 4-0 Cubs loss to the Dodgers just five pitches into the bottom of the first inning, disputing a checked-swing call on Yasiel Puig. (Replays showed Dale was probably right; bring on the robot umpires!)

Dale probably made the best choice of any of us, because he barely missed any Cubs action. The Cubs got just three hits off former Cubs prospect Ricky Nolasco, a double and two singles, and the Dodgers' four runs were helped along by a ridiculous-looking throwing error by Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, trying to get a force play at third base in the Dodgers' two-run fifth inning. The score might have been worse if Jackson hadn't gotten Carl Crawford to hit into a double play after Puig walked, because Hanley Ramirez homered in the first inning right after that. The other Dodger run scored on an Andre Ethier home run.

By the time the Dodgers made it 4-0, Puig had been taken out of the game by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, ostensibly for not hustling in the field. Maybe Puig and Dale could have gone and had a beer together, I dunno. Jackson was finally pulled by bench coach Jamie Quirk with two out in the seventh inning, having thrown 124 pitches and somehow, posting a quality start because of the two unearned runs. This tells you more about the usefulness of "quality start" than anything about how well Jackson actually pitched.

It is just the 20th game in the major leagues this year where a pitcher has thrown 124 or more pitches, and the first such game by a Cubs pitcher. Blake Parker threw a nice scoreless relief inning.

Meanwhile, Nolasco not only threw eight three-hit innings, but struck out 11, including a pair of K's of both Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, both of whom looked particularly helpless at the plate. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who hadn't worked in the first two games of the series, increased the K count by striking out the side in the ninth, sandwiched around a walk to Brian Bogusevic. Junior Lake looked totally overmatched against Jansen. A learning experience, right?

It was just the second weekday afternoon game this year for the Dodgers -- their other one was Opening Day. It showed; though the paid attendance was announced as 30,851, it looked like barely half that, about 15,000, were in the stands at Dodger Stadium, another reason it seemed odd that this game was scheduled during the afternoon. Both teams have Thursday off; the Dodgers surely would have drawn better for a night game.

The Cubs went 2-4 on this West Coast trip, which is two more wins than I thought they'd have; they equalled their low point of the season at 21 games under .500 at 56-77. That means they'd have to go 6-23 to lose 100 games. Don't think it can't happen; with two games remaining this month, the Cubs are 7-19 in August and have to face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in the two remaining August games.

That'd be special, right? Two straight 100-loss seasons? The most games lost by any Cubs teams in two consecutive seasons is 193, set in 1960-61 and tied in 1965-66. The Cubs need to lose just 93 games (in other words, go 13-16) to break that mark.

Stick around; we have lots of material planned for Thursday's off day.

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