Dodgers chase Hammel early, reward Urias

Dodgers chase Hammel early, reward Urias

LOS ANGELES -- Starter Julio Urias recovered from a shaky beginning and fellow rookie Corey Seager slugged a record-setting home run Saturday as the Dodgers held on to edge the Cubs, 3-2, in a battle of first-place teams.

"To go to Chicago [May 30-June 2] and lose three of four, then to perform well and go toe-to-toe with a team that has been very good all year, I think sends a message to our guys, as well as those guys in that clubhouse," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Seager's 23rd home run in the first inning set a Dodgers single-season record for a shortstop. Urias singled during a two-run third inning off Cubs starter Jason Hammels (13-7) that included RBI singles by Chase Utley and Justin Turner. Hammels, who allowed 10 runs in his previous start, was removed after 2 1/3 innings in this one. Rob Zastryzny saved the Chicago bullpen with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon met with Hammel after the game to talk about being pulled so quickly.

"He was not happy with me taking him out that early, and I can understand why," Maddon said. "I just didn't see the game straightening out. Watching him one time through, it looked like they were on him a little bit. I thought it was a great lineup for [Zastryzny]. One of the things with the arms is I want to put them in meaningful spots."

Zastryzny's relief appearance

The first three Cubs batters reached base vs. Urias, with Anthony Rizzo singling in a run. But Urias (5-2) limited damage in the 31-pitch first inning with two of his career-high-tying eight strikeouts and turned around his start to allow one run in six innings. The Dodgers' defense turned two double plays behind him.

• With growth comes confidence for Urias

"The Cubs are very good in the first inning, these guys get on you early and they keep swarming and adding on," said Roberts. "So, for us to get out of the first inning giving up one run, then Julio kept getting stronger and executing better. Against a team that's very professional, that runs counts up, to get six out of Julio was big."

Urias' outstanding outing

Roberts said he sees similarities in the way Seager and Urias have quickly adjusted to the Major Leagues.

"One of first things I noticed when I met Julio and as he's been around Major League players, the way he carries himself," said Roberts. "The quiet confidence, you can liken to Corey. He's a good listener, he wants to get better. He's been working with [catcher Yasmani Grandal], [pitching coach Rick Honeycutt], Clayton [Kershaw], and that's been really good for him, but nothing is better than getting game experience. You've seen it the way Corey has grown, and with Julio the same thing."

Pinch-hitter Jason Heyward singled home Willson Contreras in the seventh inning after a throwing error and balk by Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez, but Adam Liberatore rebounded from Friday night's loss by quashing the Chicago rally in the seventh.

Kenley Jansen, charged with his sixth blown save Friday night, struck out two in the ninth for his 38th save. He said his velocity jumped to 97 mph on Saturday because he was still mad about Friday night.

Jansen notches the save

"I've got to figure out how to be angry all the time," the closer said. "I just was angry. Not a lot of hours of sleep last night, thinking about letting my teammates down."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
He can hit, too: A key to the Dodgers' two-run third inning was Urias' no-out single in a bunt situation after an Andrew Toles double, as the 20-year-old squared but pulled the bat back to slash a liner past drawn-in third baseman Kris Bryant. It was Urias' third hit of the season.

Urias singles to left

Short start: Hammel threw 13 pitches in the first inning. But he's a ground ball pitcher who couldn't get any groundouts. The right-hander was lifted after giving up three runs and throwing 39 pitches over 2 1/3 innings. It's his second straight rough outing, following his game against the Rockies in which he gave up 10 runs (six earned) on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings. Hammel had been on a roll prior to the Rockies game, winning six in a row from July 16-Aug. 16.

Hammel gets pulled from the game

Hammel did not want to discuss his conversation postgame with Maddon.

"The home run to Seager and Toles' double really were the only times I remember balls getting hit hard," Hammel said. "Other than that, I felt that their hits found the holes. It is what it is." More >

Pace of play: Baez had a tough seventh inning following Urias. He threw away Contreras' bunt single, balked Contreras to third, allowed Heyward's RBI pinch-hit single and put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base with walks. He faced five batters, made 29 pitches and took 29 minutes to do it. Grandal preserved the lead by throwing out Heyward trying to steal second, and Liberatore stranded the two runners inherited from Baez.

Contreras advances to third

"We're working on the tempo," said Roberts. "We'll continue to let him know. He's really a cerebral guy and he's trying to think through things, and I don't think he's cognizant of how the game comes to a standstill."

RBI guys: The Cubs made Urias work in the first, with leadoff man Dexter Fowler coaxing a walk, followed by back-to-back singles by Bryant and Rizzo. Rizzo's RBI single gave him 89 RBIs, tied with Bryant for the team lead. Ben Zobrist bunted for a hit after Rizzo's single, but Urias fielded the ball and threw him out. Maddon said he liked the bunt, especially with potential RBI men Addison Russell and Jorge Soler coming up.

"Zobrist is a heck of player," Roberts said. "It's his decision to give Russell, who's been hitting well, that situational at-bat. For us to get an out proved beneficial for us."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers became the first team in the Majors to reach 3 million in attendance this year. They've done it five straight years, 20 of the last 21 years and 30 times total, the MLB record.

WHAT'S NEXT
Cubs: Jon Lester will close the Cubs' West Coast trip and series on Sunday at 3:10 p.m. CT. Lester is coming off a win over the Padres in which he gave up one run over six-plus innings. He's 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last five starts.

Dodgers: Rookie Brock Stewart makes his third Major League start in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT game, still seeking his first victory. He last pitched nine days earlier for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Stewart grew up in Normal, Ill., 130 miles from Chicago.

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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.