Bunting guru Sandy Alomar was impressed. Sure, he'd seen players earn doubles on bunts during his 30-plus years in professional baseball.
But Alomar, the Cubs' first-base coach, couldn't recall a bunt quite like Corey Patterson's on Friday night.
"I've seen a few [go for doubles], but usually over the third baseman's head," he said. "But that one right at the shortstop? No."
Patterson's push bunt sparked the Cubs' four-run rally in the seventh inning that led to their 8-3 victory over the Dodgers.
After pinch-hitter Delino DeShields started the inning with an opposite-field double, the Dodgers expected Patterson to sacrifice in a 3-3 game.
Patterson, seeing that third baseman Adrian Beltre was charging toward the plate, lined a bunt to his left. By the time shortstop Cesar Izturis recovered the ball, DeShields was steaming toward home with the go-ahead run and Patterson was cruising into second.
"When you see the first baseman and third baseman crash in hard, sometimes you don't even need a perfect bunt," Patterson said. "Just bunt it hard enough to get it past them."
The play was originally ruled a single until the official scorer looked at a replay and saw that Patterson hadn't stopped at first. It didn't matter that Izturis' throw had gone home.
"No one was at second base," Patterson said. "I saw a free bag."
After Mark Bellhorn was hit by a pitch and Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou were retired, Fred McGriff delivered the back-breaking blow. He crushed a three-run homer off Paul Quantrill that put the Cubs ahead 7-3 and virtually assured them of their second straight victory.
It was a milestone night for McGriff, who tripled his season's home run total by going deep twice.
McGriff's first blast, a solo shot in the sixth, put him in elite company. He became the 27th player in big-league history with 450 homers.
"He's been consistent," manager Don Baylor said. "No matter what team he's been with, he's always put up the numbers."
The Cubs also got key contributions from Bellhorn, who reached base four times, and lefty Ron Mahay, who pitched out of a sixth-inning jam created by Carlos Zambrano. Not only did Mahay extend his hitless streak to 5 1/3 innings, he earned his first Cubs victory.
Shortstop Alex Gonzalez gave the Cubs an early lead with a two-run homer, his second in as many days.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times