Rich Hill attacked with pinpoint location and his reliable curveball. Where the 39-year-old pitcher surprised was at the plate.
Hill singled in the go-ahead run in the fourth inning, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 Friday night for their seventh straight home win.
Since giving up five runs to Pittsburgh in his delayed season debut April 28, Hill hasn’t allowed more than three runs in a start. In three June starts, he’s given up five earned runs over 19 innings.
Hill (4-1) allowed three runs and seven hits. The left-hander struck out seven and walked none in earning his first win against the team that drafted him out of Michigan in 2002.
“That curveball just kind of comes and hits the brakes and takes a turn on you,” Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo said. “You’re ready for the fastball, you see the curveball and you can’t get right on it. It just runs away from you.”
Hill struck out 11 consecutive batters during one stretch.
“The curveball definitely got better as the outing went on,” he said. “That was the X-factor.”
The NL West-leading Dodgers rebounded from an early deficit for the second straight game, getting two-out homers from Matt Beaty — a two-run shot that was the first of his career — and Justin Turner that tied it up. The Dodgers improved to a league-best 27-7 at home.
“They’re good and right now they’re really good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re posing a lot of problems because they put together good at-bats.”
Kenley Jansen worked the ninth for his 20th save. Jason Heyward was safe at second after the ball went through the legs of Beaty at first for an error. He took third on Jansen’s balk before Victor Caratini struck out to end the game.
With two outs and the game tied, Hill singled into shallow left field to score Beaty, who had doubled, and gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. That ended a streak of the Dodgers scoring 13 straight runs on homers.
“I’ll take any hits I can get,” said Hill, who had an .083 batting average.
Dave Roberts’ assessment of Hill’s hitting? “He’s a good trier at the plate,” the manager said.
The Dodgers added a run in the fifth when Max Muncy grounded into a fielder’s choice to first off Kyle Ryan and Alex Verdugo scored to make it 5-3.
Beaty homered in the second and Turner added a solo shot for his 100th career homer in the third that tied it 3-all.
“Hitting is contagious when guys are swinging it well,” Beaty said.
Two of the Dodgers’ four home runs in Thursday’s 7-3 win came from Cody Bellinger, but he was limited to one hit with two walks Friday.
The Cubs led 2-0 in the first on Anthony Rizzo’s team-leading 18th homer down the right field line. Bellinger leaped for it and the ball hit a fan in the chest and bounced back on the field. It was initially ruled a double, but was changed to a homer after a review.
Kris Bryant’s 15th homer gave Chicago its last lead at 3-2 in the third.
Kyle Hendricks (7-5) gave up five runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings — his shortest outing since lasting four innings at Milwaukee in his second start of the season. The right-hander struck out one and walked two in losing for the first time since April 26 at Arizona.
“My fastball wasn’t quite working, didn’t have it down in the zone enough,” Hendricks said. “I was missing up when I was trying to go up too many times. Everything works off my fastball for me.”
The Cubs fell to 7-6 against left-handed starters and have dropped nine of 11 road games. They remained a game back of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central after the Brewers lost at San Francisco.
“Coming out hot, then we’re letting them back in and they’re just holding on,” Maddon said.
The Dodgers loaded the bases on three consecutive walks by Mike Montgomery in the seventh. Albert Almora Jr. robbed Chris Taylor of a grand slam with a sensational catch against the center field wall that caused him to fall on his back.
Muncy had some fun with his comment to Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner after the second baseman homered into San Francisco Bay last week.
Muncy wore a T-shirt reading “Go get it out of the ocean” during batting practice Friday. That was his response when Bumgarner told him “Don’t watch the ball, run.”
Teammate Enriquè Hernàndez donned a similar shirt.
Verdugo recorded three consecutive outs in the Cubs’ half of the sixth. The center fielder charged a liner by Javier Bàez and made a diving catch for the first out. Willson Contreras and Almora Jr. followed with fly balls that Verdugo caught, providing Hill with a quick inning.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (2-3, 4.98 ERA) pitches at Dodger Stadium for the first time since a disastrous outing in a Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series when he was with Los Angeles.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (7-1, 3.35) has a 10.80 ERA and an 0-1 record in two career games against the Cubs.
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