Los Angeles ended the day with a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League West over their next opponent, the Giants. The Dodgers tuned up by outscoring the Cubs, 37-22, and collecting 53 hits in the four-game series. Chicago was coming off a three-game sweep of the Reds, who scored one run in the series.
"They're trying to clinch a division, and we're trying to show everybody who we are," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "I think all things being equal, we fell behind early in a few games and we kept coming back and fighting. I think our guys are showing a little bit of heart and just fell short."
The Cubs had two on and nobody out in the ninth against Kenley Jansen, but he struck out Javier Baez, got Anthony Rizzo to ground out, and then struck out Luis Valbuena to end the game.
Jacob Turner knows all about the Dodgers' high-powered offense. This was the right-hander's third start against them, although it was his first with the Cubs. The right-hander made the other two starts while with the Marlins, and served up 10 earned runs over 9 1/3 innings combined in those games. On Sunday, he was charged with four earned runs over five innings.
"It just shows that you have to execute," Turner said. "There were times when I was able to, especially in the fourth and fifth innings, I felt a little better. The two-run home run to Kemp [in the third] was a fastball trying to go away, and it caught too much of the plate. In the first inning, the two-out hit by Hanley [Ramirez] was a breaking ball that stayed up a little bit."
The Cubs couldn't afford any miscues against the NL West leaders.
"You can see with their lineup, they have a lot of good hitters," Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. "We made a lot of mistakes with the pitching, and those hitters don't miss the mistakes. We have to stay with them and keep moving forward."
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first as Yasiel Puig singled and ran through third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy's stop sign to score on Gonzalez's double. Gonzalez scored one out later on Ramirez's double.
The Cubs made it 2-1 on Chris Coghlan's RBI single in the second against Jamey Wright, the first of six Dodgers pitchers. Los Angeles changed its rotation to save Dan Haren for Monday's game against the Giants.
Kemp connected on his home run in the third off the first pitch from Turner, driving in Puig, who had singled. Kemp added RBI singles in the fifth and seventh innings and tied season highs with four RBIs and four hits.
"A lot of guys have been stepping up," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Getting into the last month, our guys know where we're at and what's at stake."
"They're obviously a very experienced club," Renteria said of the Dodgers. "I thought we went toe to toe with them a little bit here. Even as young as we are, I thought we held our own. Don't think they weren't a little worried in the ninth when we got going."
Castillo belted a leadoff homer in the eighth, his 12th, to make it interesting. Sunday was his first start since leaving Friday's game because of a left rib contusion.
"The first two at-bats, I was thinking too much about [my injury] and I didn't try to swing," Castillo said. "I said to myself, 'Just swing, and if it's going to hurt, it'll hurt,' and everybody sees what happened my last at-bat. I don't feel 100 percent, but just six more games and I'm just going to try to play with this."
Six more games remain for the Cubs, beginning with a series against the Cardinals, who clinched a playoff spot Sunday. It'll be another test.
"We have a lot of good hitters with the young guys," Castillo said. "With time and experience, I think we'll be really good."