Rizzo breaks out of slump, Cubs even NLCS
Los Angeles — Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs’ bats broke out in a big way.
Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell’s two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago’s 21-inning scoreless streak, and the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.
Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.
Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.
To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur’s bat.
“I know Szczur’s bat has a lot of hits in it,” Rizzo said. “I’ve done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset.”
Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.
Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago’s 3-4-5 hitters — a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games — busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice.
“Today was a must-win for us,” Ben Zobrist said.
Los Angeles was limited to six hits and made four errors in a game that dragged on for 3 hours, 58 minutes.
Mike Montgomery won in relief of John Lackey, who was chased after consecutive walks opening the fifth. Four days shy of his 38th birthday, Lackey allowed two runs, three hits and three walks.
Julio Urias, at 20 years, 68 days the youngest postseason starting pitcher in major league history, gave up four runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the third consecutive left-hander to start the series for Los Angeles.
Chicago rattled off three straight hits to open the fourth, sparked by Zobrist’s leadoff bunt single to third.
“With the way that our bats were swinging it at the beginning of the game, we just had to do anything we could. That was my thought process,” Zobrist said. “I felt like if he threw a strike, I could get one down in a good spot and was able to do it.”
He took second on Javier Baez’s single to left, and Willson Contreras followed with a single to nearly the same spot in shallow left, scoring Zobrist.
Baez moved up to third and Contreras took second on left fielder Andrew Toles’ errant throw to the plate that skidded all the way to the backstop.
Jayson Heyward hit a run-scoring groundout, and Russell followed with his first extra-base hit since Sept. 30 and his first homer since Sept. 19. He jubilantly pumped an arm as he rounded the bases on his two-run drive, which put the Cubs ahead 4-0.
Rizzo homered off Pedro Baez leading off the fifth, snapping his 0-for-11 skid in the series. Rizzo had entered 2 for 26 in the postseason.
Los Angeles closed to 5-2 in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Turner’s likely double-play grounder caromed off Montgomery’s outstretched glove and Russell, who scrambled on all fours at shortstop as the ball went into left-center field for a two-run single.
Chicago tacked on five runs in the sixth off relievers Ross Stripling and Luis Avilan. Dexter Fowler singled in the first run, Rizzo added two more on a bases-loaded single and Javier Baez hit a sacrifice fly, with a second run scoring on an error by center fielder Joc Pederson.