Cubs aim for three-game sweep of Dodgers

MLB Baseball

The Chicago Cubs’ pitching staff has carried the highest starters’ ERA in the major leagues for much of the early season, but that trend has gone the other way this week against the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cubs right-handers Kyle Hendricks and Keegan Thompson combined to limit the Dodgers to one run in 10 2/3 innings Tuesday as Chicago took both games of a doubleheader.

On Wednesday, fellow righty Adbert Alzolay will try to keep the roll going as the Cubs attempt to finish a three-game sweep of the reigning World Series champions.

Alzolay (1-2, 4.71 ERA) will be working on an additional day of rest after the Cubs pushed his start back following a series of roster moves ahead of the doubleheader. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers in his career.

Alzolay is coming off the longest outing of his brief career, as he defeated the Atlanta Braves on Thursday behind six innings of two-run, four-hit ball. He gave up one walk and recorded six strikeouts.

“His stuff I put up there with anybody in baseball, just the way it moves,” Cubs infielder Matt Duffy said. “Facing him in a live BP right before (the) season started, I was thoroughly impressed with the pure stuff. I think when he’s aggressive like he was (Thursday) you see how difficult it is for hitters. He was really sharp.”

Dodgers righty Walker Buehler will try to return to his early season form. Buehler (1-0, 3.16) began the year with four successive quality starts but scuffled Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds, yielding five runs in 6 1/3 innings, with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

In three career appearances against the Cubs, including two starts, Buehler is 0-1 with a 5.27 ERA and seven strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.

After pouncing on Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw early in Tuesday’s doubleheader opener, the Cubs endured a wild finish to take Game 2 by a 4-3 margin in nine innings. Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer limited the Cubs to one run in 4 1/3 innings in the nightcap, and he was far removed from the game by the time David Bote smacked an opposite-field, walk-off single in the ninth.

Chicago became the eighth team to sweep a doubleheader against two Cy Young Award-winning starters and the third to accomplish the feat since 1996.

The Dodgers have lost 12 of 16 and are 1-5 to begin a 10-game road trip. They also fell to 1-5 in extra innings.

After failing to make a plate appearance in the doubleheader despite a recent hot streak — including a four-hit, seven-RBI day at Milwaukee on Sunday — Matt Beaty will be in the starting lineup Wednesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

In the nightcap on Tuesday, Max Muncy hit a game-tying home run in the seventh and Justin Turner went deep in the eighth, but the offense was two outs from losing by three-hit shutout after scoring only one run in the opener.

When asked whether any part of the roster apart from starting pitching was performing to its potential, Roberts said, “Probably not.”

–Field Level Media

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