Chisox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe


Chisox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- First, the good news as it concerns Barry Zito: Hitters couldn't touch the last 25 pitches he threw.

The bad news: That's because he threw them in the bullpen.

Zito had to plump up his pitch count to 85 because the Chicago White Sox bushwhacked him Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Zito faced 18 batters and gave up nine hits plus two walks in 2 13 innings. The contact was loud, too. It included three doubles and back-to-back home runs by A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios.

Yes, Zito served one up to Pierzynski. Researchers are trying to determine if there has never been a darker day in Giants franchise history.

A start like this for Zito would be alarming at any point in the spring. Manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged this one was more unsettling because it came with a week until camp breaks. Zito has just two more exhibition starts before he'd take the mound April 9, when the Giants will play in the Colorado Rockies' home opener at Coors Field.

"Hopefully he can learn from this," Bochy said. "He's going to he out there (every fifth day). Hopefully the next start he can bounce back and get in a groove."

Zito said he knows what he needs to address.

"I've been harping on getting downhill on a good plane," Zito said. "Today I was rushing my body and the arm couldn't catch up. Downhill plane is everything. If your fastball comes out on a downhill plane and the offspeed comes out how the fastball comes out, that's how you get guys off balance. Today, because my arm was late, the fastball was up and the other stuff was recognizable. Even a couple good curveballs got hit."

Zito called it "definitely something that requires attention. ... Ideally you make that adjustment the next pitch. Today, I was laboring to make the adjustment in three pitches and not one."

Said Bochy: "Sure, you don't want to see it this late, but it's going to happen. Better here than in the season. You're hoping he's at a point he can get locked in. Overall, I think he's thrown well. ... Today he never got settled in. Every inning was a struggle."

Bochy reiterated that all he wants from Zito, a back-end starter, is to "give us a chance to win."

Zito is throwing in the low 80s this spring but could take a lesson from another left-hander who could appear in that first series at Coors Field. That would be 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who threw four perfect innings against the Giants on Saturday at Salt River Fields. Moyer, who could be the Rockies' No.5 starter, didn't throw a pitch above 78 mph.

"He mixes his pitches really well and he's always giving guys a different look, whether it's cutter in, heater away or changeup," Zito said. "He's always making pitches just out of the zone. It's that feel for where to put the pitch and having the timing to (execute it). That's what Jamie has done so well."

Zito said he isn't sure where his velocity has been this spring but "it'd be nice" to add a little more. Mostly, he said he just needs to do a better job hitting his spots.

Zito has a 6.61 ERA this spring but said he mostly has felt good about how he's thrown in bullpen sessions and in games prior to Sunday. Even if the Giants don't feel as confident in Zito, they don't have much of a choice. He is making 19 million this year, 20 million in 2013 and has a 7 million buyout on an option in 2014.

Considering that eating Aaron Rowand's 12 million contract last August was a decision that contributed to the ouster of former managing partner Bill Neukom, it's hard to envision the Giants seriously entertaining the notion of cutting Zito anytime soon.

Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak, and the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters - a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games - busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice.

"Today was a must-win for us," Ben Zobrist said.

Los Angeles was limited to six hits and made four errors in a game that dragged on for 3 hours, 58 minutes.

Mike Montgomery won in relief of John Lackey, who was chased after consecutive walks opening the fifth. Four days shy of his 38th birthday, Lackey allowed two runs, three hits and three walks.

Julio Urias, at 20 years, 68 days the youngest postseason starting pitcher in major league history, gave up four runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the third consecutive left-hander to start the series for Los Angeles.

Chicago rattled off three straight hits to open the fourth, sparked by Zobrist's leadoff bunt single to third.

"With the way that our bats were swinging it at the beginning of the game, we just had to do anything we could. That was my thought process," Zobrist said. "I felt like if he threw a strike, I could get one down in a good spot and was able to do it.

He took second on Javier Baez's single to left, and Willson Contreras followed with a single to nearly the same spot in shallow left, scoring Zobrist.

Baez moved up to third and Contreras took second on left fielder Andrew Toles' errant throw to the plate that skidded all the way to the backstop.

Jayson Heyward hit a run-scoring groundout, and Russell followed with his first extra-base hit since Sept. 30 and his first homer since Sept. 19. He jubilantly pumped an arm as he rounded the bases on his two-run drive, which put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Rizzo homered off Pedro Baez leading off the fifth, snapping his 0-for-11 skid in the series. Rizzo had entered 2 for 26 in the postseason.

Los Angeles closed to 5-2 in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Turner's likely double-play grounder caromed off Montgomery's outstretched glove and Russell, who scrambled on all fours at shortstop as the ball went into left-center field for a two-run single.

Chicago tacked on five runs in the sixth off relievers Ross Stripling and Luis Avilan. Dexter Fowler singled in the first run, Rizzo added two more on a bases-loaded single and Javier Baez hit a sacrifice fly, with a second run scoring on an error by center fielder Joc Pederson.


Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home to end the second. A sliding Gonzalez stretched his left hand toward the tip of the plate as catcher Contreras applied the tag with his left hand near Gonzalez's upper left arm.

The Dodgers challenged Angel Hernandez's call, which was upheld on video review. That drew online scorn from Washington star Bryce Harper.

"He was safe! Replay system still broke..Same thing all year long! (hashtag)DontMessItUp," Harper tweeted.


Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will attend Thursday's game, his first time back at Dodger Stadium since calling his last home game on Sept. 25. The 88-year-old ended his 67-year career this month with the regular-season finale at San Francisco.


Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. left in the seventh because of left hamstring tightness.


Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis announced the Dodgers' starting lineup. Also on hand were Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, George Lopez, Larry King and Mary Hart.


Lester allowed one run in six innings of Game 1 in the series, getting a no-decision in Chicago's 8-4 victory. ... Maeda has a 9.00 ERA in two postseason appearances. He allowed three runs and four hits in four innings of the NLCS opener and didn't factor in the decision.

Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


LOS ANGELES -- Rich Hill never strayed from his mindset of pitching in the moment, even when he was far from the major leagues playing independent ball with the Long Island Ducks.

Convinced there would be another opportunity to get back to the big leagues, he focused on executing pitches without worrying about his current circumstances.

Fourteen months later, Hill allowed two hits over six innings to beat Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs 6-0 Wednesday, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-1 NL Championship Series lead.

"It's the biggest game of my career," Hill said. "It's just putting in the work, putting in the time, having a routine, persevere, all those things that you can say to sum up some kind of endurance or resiliency. For me, that's all I've ever known is just work."

Rookie Corey Seager had three hits, including a go-ahead single in the third, and Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

After winning a big league-high 103 games during the regular season and sparking belief they could win the World Series for the first time since 1908, the Cubs have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 2014, managing just six hits - five of them singles. Their 18 straight scoreless innings mark the longest postseason drought in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"More than anything, I think we need to get a couple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feeling back," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "because, obviously, when you're not scoring any runs, it makes it even more difficult in the dugout."

Hill, who made two starts in the independent Atlantic League in August 2015 before signing a minor league deal with Boston , struck out six and walked two. Joe BlantonGrant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finished. Playing their 200th postseason game, the Dodgers posted consecutive shutouts for the first time.

Julio Urias starts Game 4 for the Dodgers on Wednesday and at 20 years, 68 days will become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. John Lackey starts for the Cubs.

"He's not scared of the moment," Seager said of Urias. "He's not scared of anything."

Hill was acquired from Oakland along with Josh Reddick at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The 36-year-old left-hander struggled with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand that landed him on the disabled list from mid-July to late August. The blister still bothered him in the final weeks of the regular season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled him after seven perfect innings against Miami on Sept. 10, saying the team had to keep its focus on bigger goals in October.

Hill was strong from the start against one of his former teams, retiring the side to open the game and later eight in a row. He's given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA to 0.39.

"When he's got that attitude out there, you can tell," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "That's when you know he's rolling, that his pitches are working, and he's doing what he wants to do out there."

Seager's go-ahead single ended an 0-for-15 slide with runners in scoring position in postseason play.

Grandal was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Arrieta in his career before he launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-field pavilion in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Grandal drove in Reddick, who singled and stole second and third.

"He's been so good for the last couple years just because he doesn't give in," Grandal said of Arrieta. "He still made a really good pitch down in the zone. I was just lucky to put a swing on it and hit it out."

Justin Turner homered on the first pitch leading off the sixth to chase Arrieta, who gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He dominated the Dodgers in his previous two starts against them, including a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30, 2015. Los Angeles had gone 2 for 51 against him in two games.

"It's hard to go out there and pitch when your team is not scoring, so you try to be perfect. You can't make any mistakes. If you give up one run, that can be it," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He had one of his best stuff all year, to be honest."

Joc Pederson doubled in a run in the eighth and Grandal hit a run-scoring groundout .

Maddon moved struggling Anthony Rizzo from third to the cleanup spot, and his broken-bat infield hit in the ninth made him 2 for 26 in the postseason. Addison Russell, dropped from fifth to seventh, is 1 for 24. Jason Heyward struck out as a pinch hitter and is 2 for 19.

Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters went 1 for 11 in the game and are 2 for 32 in the series without an RBI.

Dexter Fowler's two-out double in the eighth provided the Cubs' first extra-base hit since their 8-4 win in the opener.

"There's no doubt here," third baseman Kris Bryant said. "We certainly have all the belief in the world. It's a powerful thing when you believe."

With a win Wednesday, the Dodgers could try to finish the series at home.

"These guys won 100-some games. They've got the talent, so you can't think ahead," Grandal said. "If you think ahead, that's when bad things happen."

Four of Chicago's eight shutouts this year have been against the Dodgers.

Roberts hasn't ruled out turning to Clayton Kershaw to pitch on three days' rest in Game 5 on Thursday.

Los Angeles has announced rookie Kenta Maeda as its starter. He's given up seven earned runs in a combined seven innings of his two postseason starts.

In last week's five-game Division Series against Washington, Kershaw pitched in all three wins. He started Game 1 and Game 4, on three days' rest and got his first big league save in Game 5.

"The series circumstances will kind of dictate what decision we make," Roberts said Tuesday. "Clayton feels good after Game 2. He's prepared for anything that we have for him. He's shown the ability to adjust his routine or regimen for whatever is best for our club."

Lackey is 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 postseason appearances. Urias will be the third consecutive left-hander to start for the Dodgers. He earned the victory over Washington in Game 5 of the NLDS with two scoreless innings.