Poor pitching dooms Dodgers in loss to Cubs

Matt Marton- USA Today Sports
Bobby Miller had a disastrous 2nd inning and Michael Grove was no better in the 6th as the Dodgers bats couldn’t come back from an early deficit on Friday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the rival Giants and their offense was clicking on all cylinders. Mookie Betts was the best player in the National League and Shohei Ohtani was starting to click.

While their bats were still hot Friday, they couldn’t keep up with the Chicago Cubs, who rolled to a 9-7 victory at Wrigley Field.

Bobby Miller was gone after 1 2/3 innings and Michael Grove had another poor pitching performance.

Here are three takeaways:

Though Miller was as good as advertised in his first outing vs. the Cardinals, throwing six shutout innings with 11 strikeouts, he was atrocious Friday. He gave up five earned runs after allowing four hits and walking two.

In the first inning, Miller struck out the side. The second inning was one to forget as he gave up a home run to Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson, a walk to former Dodgers prospect Michael Busch, a single to Nico Hoerner, and another single to Nick Madrigal that scored both Busch and Hoerner. 

The bleeding continued as Miller walked Ian Happ, then gave up a two-run double to Seiya Suzuki that gave put the Cubs up 5-2.

Miller struggled with limiting damage last year as home runs, walks and doubles looked like they got to his head. That part of him hasn’t changed this season. He starts to pitch differently when adversity hits and things aren’t going his way.

One of the bright spots Ohtani, who hit another home run, this time a 79 mph changeup to right field that scored Mookie Betts. Ohtani also hit a fly ball later in the game 110.2 mph off the bat.

With his second home run in as many games, it appears Ohtani is starting to find his groove. It might have been a matter of time, considering he is hitting around Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith.

Grove was horrible in the sixth inning. The Dodgers had pulled to within a 6-5 deficit. After issuing a walk to Hoerner and giving up a single to Yan Gomes, Grove then threw a 93 mph cutter in the middle of the zone to Ian Happ, who tripled home both runners.

The next at-bat, Seiya Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly and Happ scored. Over the rest of the game Grove threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, ballooning his Dodgers career ERA to 6.23 — the worst in franchise history for pitchers who have thrown over 100 innings.

Grove will continue to be used in long relief but the Dodgers may look for reinforcements. Pitching prospects River Ryan and Landon Knack could come in during the middle innings if Grove keeps struggling.

Dodgers right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto (0-1) will face off against Cubs left-hander Jordan Wicks (0-0) in at 1:05 p.m. game Saturday.

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