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Dodgers 3, Cubs 2: So close

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If Jason Heyward’s ball is fair... but it wasn’t.

Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

A few inches, maybe, or a foot or two, it was really hard to tell.

That’s the margin by which the Cubs didn’t go into the ninth inning leading the Dodgers 3-2 on a home run by Jason Heyward.

The ball was first ruled a home run by third-base umpire D.J. Reyburn, then the umpires conferred and called it foul. David Ross then asked for a review [VIDEO].

In the Los Angeles twilight, I don’t see how anyone could have made a definitive ruling on that ball. To me, it looks like the ball disappears behind the foul pole in the first shot we see, which would have made it a home run. Some fans are signaling “fair” — they’re the closest to the play. Even the @DingerTracker Twitter account sent out numbers:

If Heyward homers there, the Cubs lead 3-2 and if they go into the ninth inning ahead 3-2, Craig Kimbrel is in the game instead of Keegan Thompson and...

But they didn’t and he wasn’t and instead, Cody Bellinger homered off Thompson to give the Dodgers a walkoff 3-2 victory.

It was the Cubs’ fourth walkoff loss this year (they’ve got three walkoff wins), but the first on a walkoff home run since Andrew Chafin served up one to Jacob Stallings in Pittsburgh September 22, 2020 — now there’s something that shows you how far Chafin, and the Cubs bullpen in general, have come since then.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this game.

Alec Mills had a shaky first inning in which he allowed hits to the first three Dodger batters and threw a wild pitch, but a double play helped limit the damage to two runs.

In the fourth, Anthony Rizzo cut that 2-0 lead in half [VIDEO].

As Joe Buck says on the clip, that was a “tape-measure shot”:

Willson Contreras helped keep this game close, too. In the second inning, Chris Taylor doubled and Willson threw him out trying to steal third. In the fourth, Contreras picked Taylor off third base [VIDEO].

Taylor would have scored on a subsequent single by pitcher Julio Urias.

The Cubs tied the game up in the fifth. Heyward led off with a double, and one out later Ian Happ, batting for Mills, drove him in [VIDEO].

Then, thanks to good relief work by Brad Wieck, Dan Winkler and Rex Brothers, the game remained tied through eight. Wieck, Winkler and Brothers threw four innings, allowed one hit and one walk and struck out nine.

But the recall of the home run helped prevent the Cubs from taking the lead. After Heyward’s ball was ruled foul on review (“call confirmed” was the result, but I can’t see how anything could have been “confirmed” based on the replays we were shown on Fox), he singled, his third hit of the game. Unfortunately, Sergio Alcántara then hit into a double play. Rafael Ortega singled and stole second, but was stranded when Contreras struck out to end the inning. Ortega was the last Cubs baserunner.

And then came Bellinger’s walkoff homer with the Cubs one out away from sending the game into extra innings.

Heyward, who wound up with a single on the non-home-run at-bat, went 3-for-4 on the evening with a double. Over his last eight games, J-Hey is hitting .455/.538/.682 (10-for-22) with two doubles and four walks. In those eight games he has raised his BA from .164 to .202 and his OPS from .545 to .632. The BA and OPS numbers still aren’t great, but Heyward seems finally healthy and if he can continue this hot hitting, that’s one more bat for the offense. Best of all for J-Hey in Saturday’s game — all three hits were off lefthanders.

After the Cubs went behind early, this felt like kind of a “steal this game if you can” sort of game and they nearly did. They got really good bullpen work, save for the one mistake pitch by Thompson. And, the Cubs still have a chance to leave L.A. with a series split, which was what I’d hoped they’d get before the four-game set started.

The Brewers won Saturday over the Rockies and you can see why the Rockies are 6-30 on the road — they blew late-inning leads (ninth inning Friday, seventh inning Saturday) to Milwaukee in both of the first two games of their series. So the Cubs now trail Milwaukee by two games entering Sunday’s action.

Adbert Alzolay will get the call Sunday evening for the Cubs and he’ll face Dodger lefthander Clayton Kershaw. Game time is 6:08 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on ESPN.