LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joe Maddon went to his bullpen, and two pitches later, it all began to implode for the Chicago Cubs.
Jose Quintana gave Chicago five strong innings, but relievers Hector Rondon and Mike Montgomery couldn’t make it count in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.
Quintana dominated early a day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane during an emergency stop with a medical ailment. Los Angeles got to him for two runs in the fifth, though, and Maddon called on Rondon to start the sixth in a 2-2 game.
That’s when it began to fall apart.
Chris Taylor homered on Rondon’s 1-0 pitch to lead off the sixth, and Rondon faced only one more batter before handing off to Montgomery. The left-hander got out of the sixth unscathed, but then allowed a leadoff homer to Yasiel Puig in the seventh, followed by a double to Charlie Culberson and an infield single to Taylor.
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Maddon then called for starter John Lackey — his last decision before being sent home early by the umpires.
Justin Turner singled off Lackey, and Culberson was initially called out at the plate trying to score. That call was overturned after a video review because of the way catcher Willson Contreras blocked home plate.
Contreras extended his left leg as he caught left fielder Kyle Schwarber’s throw, preventing Culberson from touching home as he slid past. Major League Baseball instituted a rule prior to the 2014 season banning catchers from blocking home plate until they have possession of the ball.
After the replay, Maddon stormed out of the dugout and began to argue. Crew chief Mike Winters let him make a brief case before ejecting him.
“I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that rule,” Maddon said, adding “that was a beautifully done major league play all the way around.”
It capped yet another disappointing day for Chicago’s relievers. Carl Edwards Jr. blew a save in Game 2 of the Cubs’ NL Division Series against Washington — a game in which Montgomery also let in two runs in 2/3 of an inning. Edwards and closer Wade Davis also had a tough time in a Game 4 loss to the Nationals, and the bullpen also gave up four runs over five innings in a 9-8 Game 5 win to advance.
This was Rondon’s first appearance this postseason — he was added to the roster earlier Saturday, while left-handed reliever Justin Wilson was removed.
It was just the latest letdown for Montgomery, who has allowed five runs over two innings in these playoffs.
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