Dodgers’ freefall continues with doubleheader sweep by Cubs – Daily News

Riding high in April, shot down in May? That’s life for the Dodgers now.

Since starting the season 13-2, the Dodgers have the worst record in the National League (and only the woeful Detroit Tigers are worse in the American League) after being swept by the Chicago Cubs in a doubleheader on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

Clayton Kershaw lasted just one inning, the shortest start of his career, in the opener, a 7-1 loss. The offense that broke out with a 16-run orgy in Milwaukee on Sunday managed just one run in the first 13 innings Tuesday then couldn’t hold a two-run lead, losing to the Cubs, 4-3, in the ninth inning in the nightcap.

The Dodgers have now lost eight of their last 10 games and 12 of 16 since that mid-April high-water mark. They have lost four consecutive series for the first time since they dropped five from Aug. 25-Sept. 10, 2017 while losing 15 of 17 games.

The Dodgers had already run away with the NL West and were up 21 games when that 2017 slump set in. If they could be forgiven for that freefall due to boredom, there should be no such excuse now.

“That’s baseball,” said Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, whose home run in the eighth inning of the second game gave the Dodgers their only lead of the day. “I mean, it’s not the first time that we’ve gone through a skid. In ’17 in September, we went through a worse skid and still wound up winning 104 games.

“No one feels sorry for us. We can’t take anything for granted. Still got to show up and do all the little things and play the game the right way. The bottom line is we’ve got to play better.”

There is something else in common between the two worst stretches of the Dodgers’ past five regular seasons – in both cases, the Dodgers were being hailed as capable of threatening the all-time record for wins (116) before they were introduced to the concept of hubris.

“I didn’t realize that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his team’s status as the NL’s worst team over the past three weeks. “Obviously, we haven’t won a whole lot of baseball games in the last couple of weeks. I think if you just kind of look at how we’re playing baseball it’s just not all around, all facets of the game executing.

“That’s what happens when you don’t do that. You keep other teams in it. They get a big hit. They make a big play and you end up being on the short end of things. … I think that obviously, we’re better than what we’ve shown and we’ve got to get back to doing the little things and playing good baseball.”

The Dodgers have lost more one-run games (eight) than any team in baseball. The second game Tuesday was the sixth time the Dodgers have gone to extra innings this season. They have lost five of those games and Roberts acknowledged “the innings prior to the extra innings, collectively, we could have done a better job to not even be in that extra-innings situation.”

Other than the starting pitching, though, no facet of the Dodgers’ roster has lived up to its billing.

“Probably not,” Roberts said to that. “I think the ’pen has been fine. You’ve had some young guys pitching in some spots that they haven’t pitched in before. So you can’t put it on these guys. They’re going out there competing and learning on the fly. But outside of that, yeah, we need to be considerably better.”

Roberts didn’t point a finger at himself. But he could have.

As much as the Dodgers have been searching for offense lately, he left one of the team’s few hot hitters, Matt Beaty, on the bench. Nine for 17 since returning from the alternate training site and coming off a seven-RBI game Sunday, Beaty wasn’t in the starting lineup for either game. When Roberts sent him up to pinch-hit in the sixth inning of the second game Tuesday, Roberts pulled him for Sheldon Neuse when the Cubs answered by bringing in a left-handed reliever.

The Cubs did everything they could to hand the second game to the Dodgers, going hitless in their first 17 at-bats with runners in scoring postion. Trevor Bauer worked out of jams in his 4-2/3 innings, giving up only a solo home run to Jason Heyward. Blake Treinen escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the sixth.

That kept the game close enough for Max Muncy to tie it with a solo home run in the seventh. It was the first earned run allowed by Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel this season and Muncy’s first home run since April 15. In between, he went 3 for 46 with 21 strikeouts (including each of his previous seven at-bats) and no extra-base hits.

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