Cubs fall to Dodgers
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Cubs fall to Dodgers

by - Senior Writer -

Although it is only Spring Training, you always want to beat the best, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have been one of the best for quite a while. That is the level the Chicago Cubs are trying to reach, and they hope it comes sooner rather than later.

Looking to nail down the No. 5 spot in camp, right-hander Javier Assad took the ball for the first time this spring. After it was announced that Assad would be one of three finalists for the rotation's final spot, the right-hander tossed two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

Granted, you may not be able to win a job in your first start of spring, but this was a great first impression, and now he has three or four more starts to build off of that. Throw in some solid outings by Michael Rucker, Brendon Little, and Manny Rodriguez, and the Cubs were cruising along and led 4-0, entering the sixth.

That was until Nick Niedert, and Bailey Horn struggled to get things as they allowed five earned runs in their outings. Throw in the four earned runs off of Hunter Bigge, and the Dodgers erased an early 4-0 and ended the game with nine unanswered runs to win 9-4.

One thing the Cubs did very well last season was scoring early in games, as they ranked near the top in first-inning runs. They may not have scored in the first today, but they did score early and often, for that matter. Christopher Morel got things started with a leadoff double to begin the second before advancing to third on the Michael Tauchman single.

Tauchman would eventually steal second base to set the Cubs offense up, with Tucker Barnhardt putting them in front 1-0 with a sacrifice fly. That was followed by a wild pitch from the former Cub Shelby Miller as Tauchman came across to double the lead 2-0.

Miller's wildness continued with Ben DeLuzio, who worked a walk and then showcased his speed by swiping second. That worked in the Cubs favor, with Nick Madrigal cashing in with an RBI single to put the Cubs in front 3-0. Apart from the bottom of the third, when the Dodgers had a chance to break through off of Rucker, they didn't have much of anything going as the score remained 3-0 heading to the sixth.

That was when Darius Hill was looking to jumpstart the offense by picking up a leadoff single. Two batters later saw David Bote come through once more as his RBI double brought in Hill and extended the lead to 4-0. Bote now has four RBIs in two spring games and has looked great at the plate.

Although it took six innings for the Dodgers to score, once they started scoring, they couldn't start. Niedert didn't make things easy on himself as he walked the first two hitters he faced before getting a huge double play. Chris Taylor ended the shutout bid with an RBI single before another walk put two runners on base.

David Ross removed Niedert after that walk in favor of Cayne Ueckert, who allowed an RBI single to Drew Avans that brought the Dodgers within 4-2. One inning later saw the Dodgers grab the lead for good as they kept the pressure on Horn and the bullpen.

With two on and one out, Horn tried to find the zone and grooved one into Hunter Feduccia's happy zone. He did the rest as he went opposite off the top of the left field fence for a three-run shot to put LA in front 5-4. Command continued to be an issue for the Cubs pen in the eighth as Bigge loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks.

An RBI forceout from Yonny Hernandez extended the lead to 6-4, but the Feduccia double busted the game wide open as the Dodgers held an 8-4 lead. Los Angeles would add another run later in that inning before again loading the bases. Fortunately, the Cubs worked out of trouble and kept the score at 9-4.

Down to their final three outs, Bryce Windham was hoping to get things started with a leadoff walk, but that was it, as the next three hitters went down in order in the 9-4 loss. The Cubs will be back in action on Monday when they face Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Guardians. Jameson Taillon will start that game for Chicago.

The Cubs had seven hits in the game, with two coming from Bote. Madrigal, Hill, Barnhardt, DeLuzio, and Tauchman added the rest of the hits for Chicago. Matt Mervis went 0-1 in the game, but did work two walks in the loss.

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