LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cody Bellinger’s recent 0-for-13 slump appears to have been a mere blip in a memorable season so far.
Bellinger hit a pair of home runs, Max Muncy and David Freese each added a two-run shot and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3 Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
The leading vote-getter in All-Star balloting, Bellinger is batting .358 with 22 homers and 57 RBIs.
The slugger ended his skid at the plate in a loss at the Angels earlier this week. Now he’s back home, where Bellinger has 14 homers and has hit safely in 28 of 32 games.
“A lot of work in the cage and tried to get back to where I was,” he said. “We’re good at bouncing back and forgetting about the past, treat every day like it’s a new day.”
Bellinger belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning. He added a solo shot in the seventh and drew chants of “MVP! MVP!”
“Just don’t think of him as a hitter — he’s a great athlete,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He plays all over the place, he plays every position well, he can run.”
The NL West-leading Dodgers rallied from a 3-0 deficit after Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant hit leadoff homers against Clayton Kershaw in the early innings.
The Cubs arrived in Los Angeles having just ended a five-game road skid, but they’ve lost eight of 10 away from home. The loss dropped them a game behind the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers, who were idle.
It wasn’t a great night for either team’s left-handed ace.
Jon Lester, a three-time World Series champion, gave up three homers. Kershaw, a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, allowed two.
Kershaw (6-1) yielded three runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out eight and walked two.
“It’s not great, but you can live with that,” Kershaw said.
Julio Urias earned his third save with three scoreless innings of relief.
Lester (5-5) gave up six runs and nine hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
“They’ve got great hitters,” he said. “Bellinger’s probably one of the better hitters I’ve seen, as far as his approach and not chasing, playing the game and doing all that.”
Lester got hit in the left foot by a comebacker from Freese in the fourth and said it was sore after the game.
Schwarber’s homer came on the first pitch of the game and Willson Contreras added an RBI single in the first.
Bryant hit his 14th homer in the third.
Lester retired 10 of his first 11 batters before getting hit hard in the fifth. With one out, he allowed five consecutive hits — including two-run homers by Bellinger and Muncy — that gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.
The Cubs turned a double play to escape the inning.
“It’s great when those lefties get going like that against Lester,” Kershaw said.
Freese slugged a two-run shot off Lester with two outs in the fifth, extending the lead to 6-3.
Cubs: RHP Carl Edwards Jr. didn’t make the trip to LA because of stiffness in his upper back.
Dodgers: SS Corey Seager went on the injured list with a left hamstring strain, the result of getting hurt in the ninth inning Tuesday against the Angels.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-4, 3.00 ERA) has been strong over his last three starts. He has a 2.05 ERA with 20 strikeouts and two walks in that span.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (3-1, 2.40) has averaged 10.80 strikeouts per nine innings and held Cubs batters to a .167 average in two career games. He has no record or ERA in those games.
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