Cubs shut out by Dodgers as Lackey struggles

by - Senior Writer -
Chicago Cubs veteran starting pitcher John Lackey has underwhelmed this season and currently has a pathetic 5.18 ERA to his name.
Chicago Cubs veteran starting pitcher John Lackey has underwhelmed this season and currently has a pathetic 5.18 ERA to his name.

LOS ANGELES -- For the second consecutive game, the Los Angeles Dodgers (30-20) skunked the Chicago Cubs (25-23) at Dodger Stadium. Winning 5-0, the Dodgers were propelled to victory behind an outstanding performance by starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Not helping matters for the Cubs was starter John Lackey's lackluster showing, as he allowed all five of the Dodgers' runs in the shutout. The Cubs were outmatched in all facets on Saturday, accumulating a meager three hits in an outing that can be chalked up as a serious letdown for the North Siders.

Lackey was magnificent through the first 3.2 innings on the night, avoiding his early-inning woes that have marred his 2017 season thus far. However, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the 38-year-old came unglued after Dodgers third baseman Enrique Hernandez doubled to deep right-center and proceeded to steal third. Two at-bats later, L.A. second baseman Chase Utley accrued his first big hit of the evening on an RBI single to left-center that scored Hernandez and put the Dodgers up 1-0.

Utley proved to be the downfall of Lackey tonight, accruing three RBI in two hits off of him. In the fifth, Utley collected a two-run single to right on another clutch two-out hit. Earlier in the inning, Los Angeles center fielder Chris Taylor garnered his sixth home run of the season with a blast to left that scored two and put the Dodgers up 3-0. After Utley's second RBI single of the evening, the Dodgers held a 5-0 advantage that proved to be too much for the Cubs to overcome.

Lackey was pulled after the fifth inning's conclusion, bringing to a close his third straight start in which he failed to make it through six innings. Tonight, he allowed five runs on six hits and four walks and appeared to be outmatched for the most part against the Dodgers' stellar batting order. Lackey earned the loss to fall to 4-5 and currently sports a dismal 5.18 ERA. With the ascension of youngster Eddie Butler for the Cubs, it draws into question how much longer Lackey will remain a regular starter for Chicago, if he remains with the team for much longer at all.

To be fair to Lackey, he received little to no offensive support from his teammates on Saturday, which has become a common theme of his starts this season. On the flip side, McCarthy, the elder statesman of the Dodgers' starting rotation, was dominant, giving up a mere two hits and one walk during his six innings on the hill. McCarthy struck out six en route to earning the win to move to 5-1 on the year.

Compiling perhaps his best start of the season, McCarthy avoided sticky situations throughout his start on Saturday, as the Cubs never threatened to score. Chicago second baseman Ian Happ attempted to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning but was gunned down at second by Taylor, epitomizing the Cubs' lack of offensive success in the game.

The Cubs had an opportunity to put a run on the board in the eighth after a throwing error essentially allowed catcher Miguel Montero to reach third not long after the mishap prevented what could have been an inning-ending double play from coming to fruition. However, nothing came of it, and the Cubs were shut out 5-0.

Chicago has been outscored 9-0 so far in this rematch of last year's NLCS. Losing all momentum from the hitting clinic that they put on when defeating the San Francisco Giants in three out of four games earlier this week, the Cubs will look to regain that prowess at the plate tomorrow afternoon. They will have their work cut out for them, though, as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will be on the bump. With Jon Lester of the Cubs also getting the nod to pitch, tomorrow's matchup, which is set to begin at 1:10 PM PST, has the potential to be a low-scoring pitching duel. Therefore, the Cubs' hitters will definitely have to step up with the bat in their hands if they are to avoid winding up on the wrong end of a three-game sweep at Chavez Ravine.

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