- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' first winning streak of any note ended with a thud.
The Dodgers lost 8-2 to the Chicago Cubs on Friday, snapping their six-game winning streak and trimming their NL West lead to 2 1/2 games. More to the point, it raised questions about some lack of depth in their rotation and bullpen.
How it happened: Two struggling veterans put the Dodgers in a big hole by the middle innings. Dan Haren was pulled midway through an ugly fifth inning, and reliever Chris Perez did nothing to slow down the Cubs’ onslaught.
The fifth was a mess in general. Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford had some miscommunication in the outfield. A.J. Ellis dropped Puig’s perfect throw to the plate on what turned out to be a Nate Schierholtz sacrifice fly. Justin Turner bobbled a grounder, then forgot to tag the runner coming into third.
It may have been the Dodgers’ worst all-around game of the season, particularly considering the opponent.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly praised the Cubs' effort level and style of play under their manager, Rick Renteria, before the game. They hardly looked like the team that was 17 games under .500 coming in. Pitcher Kyle Hendricks held the Dodgers to one earned run on four hits over seven innings.
Hits: The top of the order showed the only signs of life. Dee Gordon manufactured a run in the first inning with an infield single and two stolen bases, then Puig reached on another infield single in the sixth and raced all the way in from second on Hanley Ramirez's fielder's choice groundout. The throw to the plate beat him, but he somehow eluded Welington Castillo's tag and, after a review, scored a run. The next question is whether he should have taken such a risk in an 8-1 game in the sixth inning. He also left the game after that with a mildly strained left hamstring.
Misses: Before the game, Mattingly said it was just a matter of getting Haren through the first inning. But clearly it’s more than that. Indeed, Haren entered the game with a 7.29 ERA in the first -- his worst inning statistically. He got through the first inning unscathed this time, but Luis Valbuena homered off him in the second inning; it was the sixth long ball Haren has given up in five games this month. Haren’s ERA since July 1 is 10.03. The Dodgers already skipped his turn in the rotation once. They don’t have many backup plans, so they could simply have to ride it out and see if he can make the adjustments.
Stat of the game: Gordon stole both second and third base in the first inning. The second was his 50th steal of the season. He’s the third-fastest Dodger to reach the 50-steal mark, though Maury Wills got that many in fewer games in 1962 and 1965.
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