Urias, Dodgers unravel in 4th inning of Game 4 blowout loss
LOS ANGELES (AP) Julio Urias cruised through three hitless innings to begin Game 4 of the NL Championship Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers' 20-year-old rookie starter seemed to be thriving under the spotlight.
Then the lights went out for Urias and the Dodgers.
In one miserable night at Chavez Ravine, they squandered a chance to take control of this series and lost their opportunity to win the pennant at home.
The Chicago Cubs ended their 21-inning scoreless streak with a four-run fourth against Urias, and the youngest pitcher in big league history to start a postseason game took his first playoff loss in the Dodgers' 10-2 defeat Wednesday.
''I felt comfortable in that situation, but I just didn't get the results,'' Urias said through a translator.
Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with Kenta Maeda scheduled to pitch against Cubs lefty Jon Lester. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts reiterated he won't start ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest this time, putting the three-time Cy Young Award winner in line for Game 6 on Saturday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Roberts said Kershaw was eager to pitch, but Game 5 ''isn't a deciding game. It's not an elimination game. And I think the accumulation of his usage over the last 10 days plays a factor in our decision.''
Urias was in fine shape until the fourth inning, and so were the Dodgers' plans to keep a powerful Chicago lineup off the board. The left-hander from Mexico didn't pitch much down the stretch for the NL West champions, who gave him a postseason start with the hope he could realize his ample potential in October.
Urias walked two Cubs in the first three innings, but otherwise kept them mired in their slump - until Ben Zobrist led off the fourth with a clever bunt single. Urias acknowledged the bunt caught him off guard.
''That's baseball,'' he said. ''Even if it's a bad hit, it's a hit. That's how they scored their runs.''
Two more singles and an RBI groundout later, Addison Russell's first homer of the postseason put the Cubs up 4-0 and well on their way to a series-tying win.
Adrian Gonzalez and several other Dodgers thought things started to unravel two innings earlier when the video review of a close play at the plate didn't go their way.
Gonzalez was called out while trying to score from second on Andrew Toles' single, and the ruling was upheld after replays that were interpreted both ways.
''I knew I was safe,'' Gonzalez said. ''We've got plenty of still frames that prove I was safe. Unfortunately, it turned into a trial, and they said there was not enough evidence.''
Gonzalez believed his run, which would have put the Dodgers up 1-0 and kept the inning going with two runners on, would have given Urias a cushion in a high-pressure situation.
''It completely changes his way of pitching,'' Gonzalez said. ''Now he gets one guy on base, and he's trying not to let that one run score, where if we've got that lead, he feels more comfortable. He attacks it a bit more. It changes everything. One little thing can change the outcome.''
While Urias didn't finish strong, the Dodgers' shaky defense played a big role in the collapse as well. Los Angeles hadn't made four errors in a playoff game since the 1974 NLCS, but Toles' throwing error on Willson Contreras' soft single to left field allowed Zobrist to easily score the Cubs' first run since Game 1.
''We played a very sloppy game overall,'' Gonzalez said. ''Sometimes that happens. Obviously that was a big reason we lost today, but we're confident we'll play better.''
Down 5-0 in the fifth, the Dodgers still had a chance to get back in it. They loaded the bases against reliever Mike Montgomery, who accidentally deflected Justin Turner's comebacker into shallow left field for a two-run single.
But Gonzalez and Kike Hernandez failed to reach base, and the Cubs turned it into a laugher moments later with a five-run sixth. The Dodgers' defense chipped in again, with Hernandez and Joc Pederson making throwing errors while the Cubs batted around .
Thousands of Dodgers fans hit the freeways early, unwilling to watch a healthy contingent of Cubs rooters celebrate.
Now the NLCS is down to a best-of-three, with the Dodgers still two wins from their first pennant since 1988, and the AL champion Cleveland Indians waiting for a World Series opponent next week.