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Dodgers 7, Cubs 3: Getting off on the wrong foot

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Things were going very well for the Cubs in this game, until suddenly they weren’t.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

You had to be all ready to watch the first pitch of the Cubs vs. Dodgers game Thursday evening or you would have missed this [VIDEO].

Kyle Schwarber hit Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch of the game a very long way for his 15th home run of the season (and fourth in his last eight games, during which he is hitting .303/.333/.758). Check out the launch angle and height on that one:

Fun facts:

It was also the first home run Kershaw had allowed to a lefthanded hitter this season.

Four batters later, after Kris Bryant walked, Anthony Rizzo doubled and Willson Contreras singled, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead. It looked like it was going to be a good night, and things got better in the third inning when KB connected [VIDEO].

That was KB’s 14th. 3-0 in the third, Jon Lester breezing, having retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh. Maybe I shouldn’t be asking questions like that, because this went wrong [VIDEO].

Len Kasper originally said the ball hit by David Freese went off Lester’s glove, but replays showed clearly that it hit him in the foot. He stayed in the game.

That was probably a big mistake, because this is what the next four hitters did: Homer, single, homer, single, and within six pitches the Dodgers had a 4-3 lead. It didn’t end there, either:

Lester didn’t have any trouble with the Cardinals the second and third time through the order in his last outing, so... I have to think it was the foot. He probably should have come out of the game. The third home run noted in Jordan Bastian’s tweet was hit by Max Muncy in the fifth inning with a runner on, making it 6-3. Lester finished that inning having allowed, as noted, eight hits in the Dodgers’ final 12 at-bats against him and 95 pitches thrown.

Meanwhile, the Cubs managed just three singles and a walk the rest of the game. Tim Collins, just recalled from Triple-A Iowa, added to the Dodgers’ home-run parade by serving one up to Cody Bellinger in the seventh, Bellinger’s 22nd of the year and second of the game, making the final score 7-3. Maybe Collins isn’t the answer to all the Dodgers’ lefthanded hitters.

This comment by Theo Epstein sums up the game and road trip so far:

No doubt, this trip — and in fact, road games overall this year, where the Cubs are 14-19 — has tested the team. The Cubs have had winning records on the road each of the last four seasons, averaging 46 wins a year and a .573 winning percentage away from Wrigley Field. They’re going to have to play like that on the road again this season in order to truly be a World Series contender.

In the meantime, the loss put the Cubs one full game behind the Brewers in the N.L. Central, and for the time being the two teams have played the same number of games (68). Milwaukee’s also on the West Coast this weekend, but they have a somewhat easier task, facing the woeful Giants, who have a worse record in San Francisco than on the road. Yikes.

The Dodgers showed Thursday night just how good they are. They pounced when they had the opportunity, even after having been shut down for three innings by Lester. I still think the Cubs have a chance to split this series, but they will have to get better pitching.

Hopefully, that will happen Friday evening when Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the Cubs against ex-Cub Rich Hill. Game time again is 9:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage Friday will be via WGN.