Rizzo's ninth-inning blast puts another dent in Dodgers' shaky bullpen

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts called the pitch a "cement mixer," which is baseball speak for a breaking ball that spins but doesn't really go anywhere.

This one, a cut-fastball, came out of Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen's right hand in the ninth inning of Saturday night's game against the Chicago Cubs and headed toward the plate at 90 mph.

The ball hovered near the waist of Anthony Rizzo, on the inner half but up. The Cubs first baseman known for his prodigious power did not miss the mistake.

Rizzo sent a towering drive to right field that reached 131 feet at its apex and traveled 408 feet for a two-run home run in the ninth inning, turning what looked like a sure Chicago defeat into a 2-1 Cubs victory before a stunned crowd of 51,596 in Dodger Stadium Saturday night.

Rizzo's team-leading 19th homer snapped Jansen's string of 10 1/3 scoreless innings over 10 games, a stretch in which the right-hander held opponents to a .114 average, and it laid to waste a dominant start by right-hander Walker Buehler, who blanked the Cubs on two hits through seven innings.

"I missed two bad pitches away to Rizzo and tried to make an adjustment by going in, but I just yanked it, and I got punished for it," Jansen said. "But what can I do? I can't let one game bother me and let it affect my next one. I have to shake it off.


"It's not my first (blown save) and it won't be my last. It's part of the process. I have to believe in myself and continue to work hard to get better."

The momentum seemed to shift a bit toward the Cubs in the bottom of the eighth when Chicago reliever Brandon Kintzler picked off Enrique Hernandez at first base after the Dodgers shortstop's leadoff single.

That mistake stung even more after David Freese and Chris Taylor singled with one out. Alex Verdugo, whose fourth-inning homer provided the team's only run, grounded out to the pitcher, and the Dodgers failed to pad their 1-0 lead.

Pedro Baez threw a scoreless eighth inning and Jansen, one of the few bright spots in a struggling bullpen, came on for the ninth. He ran into immediate trouble when he hit Kris Bryant with his first pitch of the inning. Rizzo then blasted his game-winner on a 2-and-0 pitch.


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