(The Sports Xchange) – Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hit a game-winning, three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the National League Championship Series to give the Dodgers a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
The win gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and plenty of momentum heading to Chicago for Game 3 on Tuesday.
Before Turner’s heroics, the game was a battle of bullpens.
One night after taking out ace Clayton Kershaw after five innings, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did the same with Rich Hill, even though Hill had allowed just one run.
The move paid off — again — as four Dodgers relievers were nearly perfect over four innings. Even so, the game was tied at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Yasiel Puig opened the ninth against Cubs reliever Brian Duensing with a walk. Charlie Culberson, subbing at shortstop for the injured Corey Seager, moved Puig to second with a sacrifice bunt.
After pinch hitter Kyle Farmer struck out, Cubs manager Joe Maddon summoned John Lackey from the bullpen to face Chris Taylor, who walked, bringing up Turner.
On a 1-0 count to Turner, Lackey grooved a 91 mph fastball over the plate. Turner didn’t miss it, blasting it over the fence in center field for the dramatic victory.
Turner also drove in the Dodgers’ first run with a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning.
Hill gave up only a solo homer to Addison Russell in the fifth inning but was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth, Roberts continuing to show trust in his bullpen.
Brandon Morrow was perfect in the sixth and seventh innings, before Josh Fields (one out) and Tony Watson (two outs) combined to throw a perfect eighth.
Kenley Jansen entered in the top of the ninth and struck out Kris Bryant for the first out of the inning before hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, the only baserunner allowed by the Dodgers bullpen all night.
Jansen, though, wasn’t fazed, striking out Wilson Contreras and getting Albert Almora Jr. on a groundout to end the inning.
The Dodgers threatened against Cubs starter Jon Lester in the second inning with a couple of walks, but Lester retired Culberson on a fly to right field to end the inning.
In the third, Cubs second baseman Javier Baez, hitless in 17 postseason at-bats going into the game, led off with a walk. After Lester struck out on a failed bunt attempt, Baez stole second, and then took third on a wild pitch.
Hill, however, escaped. First, he got Jon Jay to hit a sharp grounder to Cody Bellinger at first base, Baez having to stick on third, for the second out. Bryant then struck out to end the inning.
Russell broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fifth, hitting an 88 mph fastball from Hill into the seats just inside the left-field foul pole for a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers got a leadoff double from Culberson in the bottom of the fifth, but Curtis Granderson, pinch-hitting for Hill, popped out to the third baseman Bryant in foul territory for the first out.
Chris Taylor grounded out to shortstop, Culberson moving up to third, before Turner slapped a grounder through the hole between first and second for an RBI single, tying the game at 1-1.
When Bellinger followed with a walk, increasing Lester’s pitch count to 103, Maddon went to Carl Edwards Jr. out of the bullpen. Roberts countered with pinch hitter Chase Utley, who struck out to end the inning.
Lester gave up a run on three hits in 4 2/3 innings.