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By Jon Weisman
Three nailbiters later, the Dodgers are the team with their digits intact.
While the Giants were taking two out of three games from the Braves, the National League’s worst team, the Dodgers held serve against the Cubs, the league’s best team. An eighth-inning run — scored without the aid of a hit — gave the Dodgers a 1-0 victory today over Chicago.
Rookie pitcher Brock Stewart was far from the game at that point, but he deserved the most credit. In his first career start at Dodger Stadium, Stewart dazzled, striking out eight — including six batters in a row at one point — in five innings of shutout ball.
Stewart also had his first Major League hit in the third inning, meaning that in this series against the Cubs, all three Dodger starting pitchers singled.
After he had retired eight batters in a row, Stewart faced his biggest challenge of the day in the fifth, when a single, walk and sacrifice put runners on second and third with two out. Dexter Fowler, whom Stewart fanned two previous times, flied to center.
“We believed in Brock,” Dave Roberts said after the game. “I can’t say enough about him.”
With a Dodger on first, Stewart at 80 pitches and Kris Bryant leading off the next inning, Roberts took the opportunity to pinch-hit for Stewart in the bottom of the fifth, but Josh Reddick also flied to center.
The Cubs were thwarted again in the top of the sixth against Dodger relievers Jesse Chavez and Grant Dayton, when Adrián González snagged Jason Heyward’s two-on, two-out, 103 mph liner.
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In the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers wrestled victory from the jaws of extra innings.
With one out, Trevor Cahill’s second pitch to Andrew Toles bounced into the pinch-hitter’s leg. Howie Kendrick then hit a muffled grounder to Cahill’s right that the pitcher picked up — and threw away, allowing Toles and Kendrick to settle in at second and third. With Justin Turner on deck, Corey Seager was walked intentionally.
Carl Edwards Jr. entered the game and struck out Turner. With two out, against a shifted Cubs infield with second baseman Ben Zobrist in right field, González hit a grounder to the left side. Third baseman Javier Baez was in position to field it, but instead of throwing the long way to first, Baez went for a force at second. Zobrist was racing from his shifted position to take the throw, but he stepped on the base a millisecond after Seager slid in, allowing Toles to score.
Under review, the play — and the eventual victory, after Kenley Jansen’s perfect ninth — was upheld.
“It all boiled down to a whisper, a toenail, a toedance around second base,” Vin Scully said.