Walker Buehler marked his 100th career start with his usual performance.
Cool. Calm. Efficient.
Buehler pitched seven sparkling innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the sliding Chicago Cubs 7-1 on Sunday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
“Tonight was all about Walker,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Buehler (4-1), a two-time All-Star who made his big league debut in 2017, improved to 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA over his last three outings. The right-hander allowed one run and four hits, struck out six and walked two.
“Typical Walker,” teammate Gavin Lux said.
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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Sunday, May 8, 2022.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The 27-year-old Buehler has permitted two runs or less in five of his six starts this season. His first career win against the Cubs was his 15th start of at least seven innings since the beginning of the 2021 season, third-most in the majors during that span.
He has come a long way since he tossed five scoreless innings in a no-decision against Miami in his first major league start on April 23, 2018.
“I think I just pitch a little bit now,” Buehler said. “I think back then I kind of tried to pick my leg up and throw it by everyone. Trying to mature a little bit that way maybe.”
Cody Bellinger had three hits for Los Angeles, and Justin Turner and Freddie Freeman each contributed a sacrifice fly. Mookie Betts went 2 for 5 while extending his hitting streak to a team-high nine games.
Chicago lost for the 14th time in 17 games. It managed just three runs and 15 hits in the three-game sweep by Los Angeles.
“We played a couple teams lately that feels like we’re chasing that kind of championship-caliber baseball,” manager David Ross said. “We’ll get there.”
The Cubs had to shuffle their rotation after Marcus Stroman was scratched, and then they lost Justin Steele to a left hand injury.
Stroman was placed on the injured list without a designation, likely meaning the right-hander was shelved by a COVID-19-related issue.
Steele (1-4) stepped in, making his first appearance since April 30. But he departed before the fifth inning, sidelined by left thumb soreness.
“Just like gripping the slider, when I was pushing down on the bottom of the ball, it was just sore on the top of my thumb and then it just kind of wasn’t getting better,” Steele said. “I was trying to stretch it out in between innings and stuff.”
The Dodgers jumped all over Michael Rucker after Steele trudged into the dugout. With the bases loaded and none out in the fifth, Lux scored on Trea Turner’s double-play ball for a 3-1 lead. Betts then scampered home on a wild pitch.
Freeman’s sacrifice fly made it 5-1 in the seventh, and the NL West leaders tacked on two more runs in the ninth — helped by an error on shortstop Nico Hoerner.
The Dodgers will go with a spot starter Wednesday afternoon at Pittsburgh. Right-handers Andre Jackson and Ryan Pepiot and left-hander Robbie Erlin are among the possibilities.
Left-hander Justin Bruihl was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City before the series finale against the Cubs.
Dodgers: Roberts said LHP Victor González (elbow) is going to have arthroscopic surgery Wednesday. Roberts said it is a scope, and the team hopes González will be able to return this season. … RHP Blake Treinen (right shoulder inflammation) was slated for an MRI on Monday, but Roberts said he doesn’t think Treinen is going to see the doctor now. The plan is to try rehab, Roberts said, with the hope of getting the reliever back after the All-Star break. … LHP Andrew Heaney (shoulder inflammation) is planning to play catch Monday. “He’s doing great,” Roberts said. “He’s in a good frame of mind.”
Cubs: 3B Patrick Wisdom was out of the starting lineup, but Ross said Wisdom was feeling better. He left the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader because of a bruised left ankle.
Dodgers: LHP Julio Urías (2-1, 1.88 ERA) gets the ball Monday night at Pittsburgh. LHP José Quintana (0-1, 3.38) starts for the Pirates.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 5.64 ERA) starts Monday night at San Diego in the opener of a six-game trip. LHP MacKenzie Gore (2-0, 1.71) takes the mound for the Padres.