Dodgers beat Cubs for third time, completing quick sweep at Wrigley

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The Dodgers spent about 33 hours at Wrigley Field this weekend and collected three wins, completing a sweep of the Chicago Cubs with a 7-1 victory Sunday night.

Add this weekend’s work to their four-game, 26-7 dismissal of the Cincinnati Reds, the lowest of baseball’s low, at home last month and the Dodgers’ 19-7 record includes a 7-0 mark against the NL Central. Next stop on their tour of baseball’s woebegone – Pittsburgh.

“It’s tough to win a big-league ballgame, let alone sweep a team on the road,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said — despite the evidence otherwise. “I just thought the way we played these last three games was more typical of our expectations. We pitched, we caught the baseball, took good at bats and ran the bases well.

“Guys are doing their job. We’re pitching. We’re catching it. Guys in the ‘pen are coming in and doing their job. I think we game plan as well as anybody. It never gets old.”

The Dodgers outscored the Cubs 20-3 in their quick sweep of the North Siders. If not for Willson Contreras – the lone Cub with a chance of making the playoffs (after a trade-deadline move to a contender) – it could have been a complete whitewash.

The Dodgers shut out the Cubs in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Contreras went 3 for 4 with a double and a home run, scoring both of the Cubs’ runs in their 6-2 loss in Game 2.

Rafael Ortega led off the bottom of the first inning Sunday night with a double into the left-field corner. He moved to third when Will Smith’s throw back to the pitcher hit the bat of the hitter standing at the plate and caromed away from Walker Buehler.

Buehler nearly stranded Ortega but Contreras dumped a two-out, 0-and-2 RBI single into right field.

The Cubs presented no problem for Buehler after that. They got just one runner past first base after the first inning — Rafael Ortega walked in the third inning and stole second base, going no farther as Buehler struck out Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ. Buehler allowed just four hits and walked two over seven innings, striking out six and getting a season-high 15 swings-and-misses.

The win comes in Buehler’s 100th career start, giving him a 43-13 record. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Buehler’s winning percentage (.768) through his first 100 starts is the second-best in MLB history behind Hall of Famer Whitey Ford’s .773 (58-17).

“I think the thing with Walker is, he’s such a student of the game,” Roberts said. “You don’t know until you know … he’s learning the league, understanding hitters, understanding swings, and also really understanding how his pitch mix plays at this level. So you look back to when he first broke in to now, he’s just obviously so much more experienced. He’s just continuing to get better.”

Buehler’s season has certainly taken that direction. Sporting a 4.02 ERA after his first three starts this season, Buehler has given up one run over 21 innings in his past three.

“I mean, I’ve had three good ones in a row,” Buehler said, assessing his progress this season. “The one against the Tigers (five scoreless innings), I didn’t go quite deep enough but the one before it was deep (his first career complete-game shutout). You feel good and you try and compete with what you have and keep jumping around what’s good and what’s not great and more credit to Will (Smith) to kind of be able to navigate what he sees back there.”

The Dodgers took the lead quietly enough in the fourth inning, scoring twice on a pair of infield singles, two walks, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.

Two more scored in the fifth on consecutive singles by Gavin Lux, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman and a run-scoring double play. And the Dodgers added two more in the ninth on a Lux single, Freeman double and an error by Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner that let them both score.

Betts was 2 for 5 in the game, extending his hitting streak to nine games during which he has five multi-hit games. Since bottoming out with a .178 average after the Dodgers’ win over the Atlanta Braves on April 20, Betts is batting .352 (19 for 54) with five home runs and a double.

“The way the pitching is going, you feel pretty good just getting a few runs,” Freeman said after going 2 for 4. “I think a few of us can say that we aren’t clicking. Mookie’s getting hot and some other guys are starting to swing the bat a lot better. But I think it’s safe to say, that not all of us are clicking.”

Reminded that the Dodgers are actually leading the majors in runs per game — despite a chunk of the lineup not “clicking” yet — Freeman was surprised.

“Are we?” he said with a smile. “It’s pretty amazing. And I think you could talk to a lot of us who feel like we’re not doing what we should be doing. I mean, I’ve only got three home runs.”