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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs fell short in their attempt to split their four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still manager Rick Renteria was still pleased with how his young team performed against the leaders of the NL West during an 8-5 loss Sunday.
"We fell behind early a few games, and we keep coming back and fighting, so I think our guys have been showing a little bit of heart," Renteria said.
Welington Castillo homered for the last-place Cubs, who pulled within a run in the fifth after an early 5-2 deficit and brought the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth with none out.
"I thought we kind of went toe to toe with them a little bit here," Renteria said.
The Cubs got behind in large part due to the play of Dodgers stars Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig.
Kemp homered and had four RBIs and four hits, and Puig scored a career-high four times in support of spot starter Jamey Wright, a regular reliever making his first start since Sept. 1, 2013. He was the first of six bullpen pitchers used by the Dodgers, who Dan Haren back a day so he could face San Francisco on Monday.
"Anytime you come out with a 'W' on a bullpen day that's a great day," Wright said.
Jacob Turner (5-11) allowed five runs in five innings in his fifth start for the Cubs since he was acquired from Miami on Aug. 8 for two Class-A pitchers.
Los Angeles out hit the Cubs 16 to 8, and the teams combined for 59 runs during the four-game series.
"They have a lot of good hitters," Castillo said. "We made a lot of mistakes. Those hitters don't miss those mistakes."
Chris Perez (1-3) struck out two in 1 1-3 innings for his first victory since Aug. 14, 2013. And Kenley Jansen earned his 43rd save in 48 chances.
The Dodgers went ahead in the first on Adrian Gonzalez's and Hanley Ramirez's RBI doubles. Gonzalez's 112 RBIs lead the majors.
Kemp's two-run home run, his 23rd, extended the Dodgers' lead to 4-1 in the third. Kemp also had three RBIs in the series opener
"Obviously Kemp this series really killed us." Turner said.
Arismendy Alcantara's RBI double pulled the Cubs to 4-2 in the bottom half.
Puig remained in the game after an awkward slide in the fifth. He scored from second on Kemp's single for a 5-2 lead.
Despite being outplayed much of the day the Cubs had a shot to comeback for the second straight day when pinch hitter Rafael Lopez led off the ninth with a walk and Chris Coghlan followed with a double. But Jansen retired the next three batters to preserve the win.
"Don't think that they weren't a little worried there in the ninth when we got going a little bit," Renteria said.
Wright confirmed Renteria's assumption.
"(Chicago is) a scrappy team, and they gave us all we could handle for 4 games," he said.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder inflammation) continues to progress after playing catch Saturday. 3B Juan Uribe returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday with a lingering groin problem.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler, who was removed after five innings Saturday as a precaution due to wet conditions, had a scheduled day off Sunday. . C Castillo returned to the lineup after a one-game absence for a rib bruise.
Dodgers: Haren (13-11, 4.14 ERA) will start for the Dodgers against Giants RHP Jake Peavy (6-4, 2.16) to open a three-game series Monday.
Cubs: LHP Travis Wood (8-12, 4.86) will take the mound for the Cubs against Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.45) to begin a three-game series Monday.
Cubs right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa helped his cause after loading the bases to start the seventh with an awkward, yet acrobatic play. Fujikawa first knocked Hanley Ramirez's comebacker down, and as he was going to pick it up fell on his backside before completing the throw to first.
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