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MLB: Cubs hope to heat up in LA vs. Dodgers

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With a much-needed extra-base hit finally to his credit, and a series on the West Coast awaiting, the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant could be looking at an ideal scenario this weekend.

The Cubs and Dodgers open a four-game series on Thursday in Los Angeles. The timing and setting appear ideal for the Cubs’ star.

Bryant hit a home run Tuesday in a 7-1 Chicago victory over the Cleveland Indians, his first extra-base hit since June 4. Signs that he was getting more comfortable at the plate came Monday, when Bryant had two walks, followed by one more Tuesday.

“I’m just trying to be a little more patient,” Bryant said. “(They’re) not really throwing me much over the middle of the plate. The last few games, I’ve gotten some pitches to hit, but sometimes you’ve just got to be a little patient and take walks. Three in two games is pretty good. So, yeah, I feel good with those results.”

The Las Vegas native and University of San Diego alum has always enjoyed his time in the West. He is a career .311 hitter with a 1.103 OPS at Dodger Stadium, his highest in any National League park. He has five home runs in Los Angeles and 15 in California’s three NL parks.

On the mound for the Cubs is another guy who loves spending time in L.A. Right-hander Zach Davies (4-4, 4.66 ERA) has four career starts at Dodger Stadium, going 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 28 innings. In eight total starts against the Dodgers in his career, he is 3-3 with a 2.37 ERA.

The Cubs are just 3-6 since an inspired three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals at home June 11-13. That capped a five-game winning streak, but the momentum has been lost.

The Dodgers are attempting to regain momentum forfeited in a sweep at San Diego.

Swept in a three-game road series by the Padres for the first time since 2010, Los Angeles also lost ground in the NL West.

When the Dodgers dropped three of four to the Padres in late April, that started a stretch in which they lost eight of 10. That difficult run became 11 defeats in 14 games after they were swept by the Cubs over three early May games in Chicago.

The Dodgers will send right-hander Walker Buehler (7-0, 2.38 ERA) to the mound Thursday after he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Saturday at Arizona and finished with a season-best 11 strikeouts.

Buehler has not lost a regular-season decision since Sept. 21, 2019, in a run of 23 consecutive starts.

Max Muncy (oblique) and Cody Bellinger (hamstring) both returned to the Dodgers from the injured list this week. Corey Seager (hand) will miss the series but is close to his own return.

The Dodgers even played without Mookie Betts on Wednesday because of a stomach bug, but he is expected to be available Thursday.

“You get two All-Star players, and it adds to the length and enhances the defense,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about the return of Muncy and Bellinger. “I know Cody is excited about being there, and Max is excited about … being around this environment. Having those guys here makes us all better.”

–Field Level Media

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