Cubs offense awakens, routs Dodgers to even NLCS 2-2

LOS ANGELES -- Breaking down Game 4 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium.

Cubs 10, Dodgers 2: Series tied, 2-2.


The game: With some help from a questionable call at the plate that was upheld after replay review, Cubs starter John Lackey opened the game with four scoreless innings. The 37-year-old veteran, making his 22nd career postseason start, could not escape the fifth and did not earn the win, but provided enough to turn the game over to a steady Cubs bullpen with the lead.

Dodgers rookie lefty Julio Urias matched zeros with Lackey for the first three innings, pitching his way out of a jam in the second, until he ran into trouble he could not escape in the fourth. Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a bunt single, and Javier Baez followed with a single to left field. Willson Contreras' ensuing single plated the first run, and a throwing error by left fielder Andrew Toles allowed Baez and Contreras to advance to second and third. A productive groundout from Jason Heyward drove home the second run, then Addison Russell blasted a homer to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead.

The 20-year-old Urias left the game with two outs in the fourth after allowing four runs -- all earned -- on four hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings. Pedro Baez relieved Urias for the last out of the fourth, then opened the fifth to allow a long home run to struggling Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo.

Lackey walked the first two Dodgers batters to start the fifth inning. Lefty Mike Montgomery relieved Lackey and allowed both inherited runners to score on a potential double-play ball that bounced off his glove and into short left field. But Montgomery ended the threat without further damage by inducing a pair of groundouts from Adrian Gonzalez and Enrique Hernandez.


Pivot point: With two on and two out in the bottom of the second, Andrew Toles ripped a single to right field. Dodgers' third-base coach Chris Woodward made the questionable decision to wave the slow-footed Adrian Gonzalez home on the hit, but right fielder Jason Heyward's throw beat Gonzalez to the plate and the runner was ruled out. Gonzalez immediately motioned for the Dodgers to challenge the play, and replays appeared to show his hand getting to the plate just ahead of catcher Willson Contreras' tag. But replay officials ruled that the call should stand, both preventing a potential run and ending the Dodgers' rally.


Manager's special: With a runner on first, one out and a three-run lead in the sixth, Joe Maddon left reliever Mike Montgomery in the game to hit for himself against the Dodgers' Ross Stripling. Montgomery, who entered the contest with one hit in 15 career regular season and postseason at-bats, poked a single the opposite way. Naturally, Montgomery was not left in the game for his hitting, but allowing him to bat for himself not only helped prolong the lefty's relief outing but also contributed to the five-run rally that put the game out of reach.


Man of the moment: Rizzo, if only for the promise of more production to come. The 27-year-old first baseman sported a sturdy .292/.385/.544 line in the regular season but entered play Wednesday only 2-for-26 with two singles and four walks in the 2016 postseason, then struck out in his first two at-bats against Urias. Facing Baez, the lefty slugger first pulled a foul ball down the right-field line that missed being a homer by a matter of feet. Later in the same at-bat, he launched a 98-mph fastball 401 feet to right-center field for his first extra-base hit of the postseason.

Rizzo later added two RBI on a bases-loaded single in the sixth.


Needing a mulligan: The Dodgers' defense made four errors in a sloppy loss.


What you missed on TV: Actors Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis setting the tone and tempo for the game with spirited but grating and seemingly self-indulgent introductions of the Dodgers' lineup.


State of the series: The Cubs' win Wednesday ensured the series will return to Chicago for at least a Game 6 on Saturday. But first, the clubs will square off in a Game 5 matchup at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, with lefty Jon Lester on the mound for the Cubs against Kenta Maeda for the Dodgers. The Dodgers had the Majors' lowest OPS against lefties in the regular season.


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