By BETH HARRIS | AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even without his best stuff, Tony Gonsolin solidified his case to start for the National League on his home mound in the All-Star Game later this month.
Gonsolin pitched seven strong innings for his 11th win, and Mookie Betts hit a pair of leadoff homers in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the series opener on Thursday night.
Gonsolin is the first Dodgers pitcher to start a season 11-0 since Alex Wood in 2017. He and Houston’s Justin Verlander are tied for most wins in the majors.
“He was able to navigate,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He worked behind more than he typically has.”
The NL West leaders won their fourth in a row.
Gonsolin allowed two runs and four hits, struck out three and didn't walk anyone for his second straight start and third time this season. His 1.62 ERA is the best in baseball.
“I feel like I fell behind on a lot of counts, but overall the fastball was really good,” he said. “The velo was there, early maybe not so much, but I found the rhythm in the third inning.”
The right-hander even did a little fielding in the sixth. Ian Happ hit a line drive that ricocheted off Gonsolin's glove and went behind the mound. Gonsolin raced to pick up the ball and fired to first base for the third out.
“I was fortunate enough that it hit the big part of my glove and not my wrist,” Gonsolin said.
Betts blasted solo shots in the first and the eighth for his 19th and 20th homers. He got hit by a pitch in the fifth and had his left hand examined but stayed in the game. He said the soreness eventually went away.
Hitting in the ninth spot, Gavin Lux extended the Dodgers' lead to 3-0 on a two-run shot with two outs in the second after Trayce Thompson doubled.
Justin Turner went deep in the fourth to make it 4-0.
The Cubs cut their deficit to 4-2 on Christopher Morel's two-run homer with two outs in the fifth.
They didn't have another hit until Happ's two-out single in the ninth off closer Craig Kimbrel. Rookie Seiya Suzuki hit a flare to right that Betts chased mightily, but it dropped for an RBI double that left the Cubs trailing 5-3.
“I wanted to dive, but something in my body didn't allow me to,” said Betts, who is recovering from a rib injury.
Suzuki took third on Kimbrel's wild pitch and Kimbrel walked Patrick Wisdom to put the potential tying run at first.
Alex Vesia retired pinch-hitter Nelson Velázquez on a called third strike to earn his first save.
Chicago starter Mark Leiter Jr. (2-3) gave up four runs and five hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out four and walked none.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (right shoulder strain) had an MRI that showed no structural damage and he won't need surgery. There's no timetable for his return. ... LHP Justin Steele isn't with the team while he awaits the birth of his child.
Dodgers: RHP Blake Treinen (right shoulder) will continue throwing off a mound while expanding his full complement of pitches. He remains a couple weeks away from facing live hitters.
Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol left after throwing six pitches in the eighth. Roberts said he had a cramp in his rib area. Although he checked out fine, Roberts said Graterol may undergo more testing and the injured list is “not off the table” for him. Graterol got the first out of the inning and had a 2-1 count on Morel when he walked off. Phil Bickford came in and struck out Morel before Andrelton Simmons grounded out to end the inning.
THROWING IN STYLE
Rapper Saweetie tossed out a ceremonial first pitch. She took the mound in high heels and her extra long fingernails painted in the team's blue-and-white colors didn't interfere with her throw to Betts, who served as catcher.
Cubs: RHP Keegan Thompson (7-3, 3.41 ERA) is 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his only other start against LA.
Dodgers: LHP Tyler Anderson (9-1, 3.09) has 73 strikeouts to 15 walks over 15 games, including 13 starts.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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