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Dodgers 3, Cubs 2: All That Zaz Not Enough For Victory

The Cubs had their chances Saturday afternoon and got some strong relief pitching, but it wasn't quite enough to win.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

You can't win 'em all. No, really, you literally can't, not in a 162-game major-league baseball regular season.

I have to keep reminding myself about that in a month where it seems as if that rule has been suspended for the Cubs, who entering Saturday's game had won 19 of 23 starts in the month and legitimately could have won three of the four games lost with better bullpen work. This one, though, turned into a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers that snapped a four-game winning streak. As good as the Cubs have been all year in pretty much every category, they've had a rough go in one-run games, where they are now 16-18. I realize that's pretty random; often, though, postseason games can be tight contests like this one, so hopefully this doesn't translate to October.

Saturday, they got some excellent bullpen work from Rob Zastryzny, who was summoned to relieve an obviously-exasperated Jason Hammel in the third inning. Hammel had thrown just 39 pitches, but was struggling and had allowed four hits, two runs and a wild pitch in that inning (after allowing a solo homer to Corey Seager in the first) and Joe Maddon, with his team trailing 3-1, was trying to limit the damage.

Zastryzny slammed the door shut, retiring 11 of the 12 hitters he faced, three by strikeout, and kept the Cubs in the game. But the Cubs could not take advantage of quite a number of baserunners after they scored a run in the first inning. There's been quite a bit of that recently, Cub scoring in the first, and often it's led to victory.

Not in this one, unfortunately. The Cubs got a run back in the eighth when Willson Contreras set down a perfect bunt and reached second when Pedro Baez threw the ball away. Len & JD wondered -- and this has happened to Cubs pitchers recently, as you know -- why pitchers try to field bunts laid down the third-base line. They're running away from first base and generally have to make an awkward, off-balance throw.

That time, it helped the Cubs. Jason Heyward, who didn't start against lefthander Julio Urias, batted for Zaz (sorry, I have to start abbreviating, it's too hard to type that name all the time!) and singled Contreras in to make it 3-2.

But Heyward took off for second while Dexter Fowler was batting and was thrown out. You know, I thought that was a reasonable chance to take and Heyward appeared to get a good jump. But Yasmani Grandal made a perfect throw to get him, which is too bad, because Fowler walked and then Kris Bryant also walked. Both of these walks seemed to take about half an hour, because Baez has to be one of the slowest-working relief pitchers I have ever seen. He makes Rafael Betancourt look like he's working quickly.

Adam Liberatore, who was victimized by Bryant for the game-winning homer Friday night, was summoned to face Anthony Rizzo. He got Rizzo to ground to first to end the inning.

Trevor Cahill threw a nice 1-2-3 seventh in relief, striking out two, and Travis Wood, similarly, retired all three hitters he faced. So overall the Cubs got 5⅔ innings of one-hit relief with five strikeouts, excellent work. There's the positive you can take out of this defeat. Unfortunately, unlike Friday night, the Cubs couldn't get to Kenley Jansen, who retired the side in order in the Cubs' ninth. Frustrating, but give the Dodgers credit. They're a good team, too, and this series gives both teams a look at each other only a few weeks before they might meet in a more-important October series.

The Cubs' loss "drops" them to 13½ games ahead of the Cardinals pending St. Louis' night game against the Athletics in St. Louis, and the division-clinching magic number, for now, remains at 22.

You'll note the lack of tweet embeds and video embeds in this recap up to here. Truth be told, there weren't really any Cubs highlights worth noting in this game. Just so you have something to break up this wall of text, here's Addison Russell throwing his bat into the stands behind the Dodgers dugout in the first inning:

In the road-trip finale Sunday, where the team will try to win this series and go 6-3 on the trip, features Jon Lester going for the Cubs and a rookie, Brock Stewart, for the Dodgers. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT and the game preview goes up at 1 p.m. CT.