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Dodgers defeat Cubs, 5-2, in Game 1 of NLCS

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A crazy seventh inning that featured a replay review showing Cubs catcher Willson Contreras illegally blocked the plate, put the Dodgers in the driver’s seat in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NLCS. Game 2 is Sunday at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Before the game, the Dodgers announced that All-Star shortstop Corey Seager will not be on the roster because of a back injury

Dodgers win Game 1 of the NLCS, 5-2

Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt.

Willson Contreras struck out swinging.

Ian Happ struck out swinging.

Dodgers win, 5-2.

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Dodgers have a quiet eighth, lead 5-2

Logan Forsythe struck out swinging.

Austin Barnes walked.

Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play.

Three outs way, Kenley Jansen on the mound.

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Here’s the official MLB rule on a catcher blocking home plate

Rule 7.13

  • A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).
  • Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
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What can be better than corn and Cheetos?

Nick Lakhani and his Cheeto-covered corn.
(Mark Potts / Los Angeles Times)

In the top of the seventh inning, 12-year-old Nick Lakhani was beaming. He had just gotten his hands on the Cheet-o-Lote, a stick of corn on the cob drenched in chipotle mayonnaise, cotija cheese and smothered in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust.

“I love corn, and this is just way better,” he said. “It’s an upgrade.”

His dad, Zak Lakhani, 40, laughed. It was his son’s second Cheeto corn of the night. Nick took a bite and got cheese all over his nose and couldn’t have been happier.

The Lakhanis of West Hills have been Dodgers fans for ages. They were feeling giddy after the Dodgers took the lead.

The elder Lakhani was in search of some epic postseason food himself.

“I’m going to go find some buffalo waffle fries and hope the Dodgers get out of this inning,” he said.

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Dodgers three outs away from winning Game 1 against Cubs

Tony Watson now pitching for the Dodgers. Joc Pederson playing left field.

Ben Zobrist grounded to first. Jon Jay grounded to first.

And here comes Kenley Jansen for a four-out save.

Kris Bryant struck out.

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Dodgers take 5-2 lead after umpires’ review reverses out call at home

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras catches the ball and blocks the plate as Dodgers shortstop Charlie Culberson tries to score on a Justin Turner single. Culberson was called out, but replay showed Contr
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras catches the ball and blocks the plate as Dodgers shortstop Charlie Culberson tries to score on a Justin Turner single. Culberson was called out, but replay showed Contr
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Yasiel Puig led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. He is having an amazing postseason.

Charlie Culberson doubled to left. Brandon Morrow laid down a bunt, but Culberson did not advance to third because Anthony Rizzo played it so well. Rizzo is the first baseman and he fielded it on the third base side.

Chris Taylor singled to the hole in short. Russell made a nice play but couldn’t throw out Taylor. Culberson had to hold at second.

John Lackey now pitching.

Justin Turner singled to left, Culberson was thrown out attempting to score. But did catcher Willson Contreras block the plate illegally? The umpires are reviewing it.

And under review, Culberson is called safe. Good for the Dodgers, but a dumb rule.

Joe Maddon comes out to argue and gets thrown out of the game. I don’t blame him for being mad.

Cody Bellinger flied to deep right, Taylor tagging and taking third. First and third, two out.

Curtis Granderson, batting for Enrique Hernandez, grounded to second, ending a crazy inning.

Joe Maddon gets tossed by umpire Mike Winters.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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Maeda, Morrow keep Cubs quiet in seventh

Addison flied to left on the first pitch. With lefty Kyle Schwarber coming up, Dave Roberts pulls Kenta Maeda for Brandon Morrrow. I’d stick with Maeda, then again, I’ve never been named manager of the year. And Morrow does have better numbers against left-handed hitters.

Schwarber flied to center. Javier Baez struck out. Like I said, bringing in Morrow was the right idea.

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Watch Chris Taylor’s sixth inning home run

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Hero’s welcome for Chris Taylor

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Puig!

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Chris Taylor gives Dodgers a 3-2 after six innings

Chris Taylor is greeted by manager Dave Roberts after a solo homerun.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hector Rondon in to pitch, and he promptly gives up a homer to Chris Taylor! Madness!

Justin Turner struck out. And Joe Maddon is making a double switch. Ben Zobrist in for Almora, Mike Montgomery, a lefty, in to pitch to Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger singled sharply to right. Enrique Hernandez flied to right. Bellinger stole second on a play that went through a review. I’m not sure why these reviews take so long.

Logan Forsythe walked. He’s on base every time you look up.

Austin Barnes flied to right.

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Cingrani, Maeda team up to retire Cubs in sixth inning

Tony Cingrani came in just to face Anthony Rizzo and got him to ground out to first.

Kenta Maeda is now pitching.

Willson Contreras grounded to short on the first pitch.

Albert Almora, he of the two-run homer, grounded to third.

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Flag day when Dodgers tie the score

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Puig’s double, Culberson’s sacrifice fly ties it up for Dodgers

Yasiel Puig celebrates after driving in a run after hitting a double.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Enrique Hernandez struck out.

I like the Dodgers lineup better when Corey Seager is in it.

Logan Forsythe walked. He’s the Dodgers’ first baserunner since a guy named Logan Forsythe singled in the second.

Austin Barnes walked, bringing Yasiel Puig to the plate. Puig doubled to left-center, scoring Forsythe.

Charlie Culberson flied to left, scoring Barnes.

Puig on second, two out. Kyle Farmer hitting for Kershaw, with Kenta Maeda warming up in the bullpen.

Farmer grounded to first.

The crowd is alive again.

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Cubs lead Dodgers, 2-0, after top of fifth

Quintana struck out. Jay grounded to first. Bryant flied to center. Kershaw desperately needed a quiet inning and he got it.

87 pitches, two runs, four strikeouts so far for Kershaw.

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Dodgers retired in order in fourth, still trail 2-0

Chris Taylor flied to deep center. Justin Turner popped to short. Cody Bellinger struck out.

The Dodgers and Cubs both have a problem with the strike zone of the plate umpire.

Quintana is cruising so far.

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Will lightning strike twice for Dodgers fan Greg Piorkowski?

From left: Greg Piorkowski, Audra Piorkowski, Riley Piorkowski, Macy Piorkowski and Tom Piorkowski
(Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

Two years ago, Greg Piorkowski was a lucky man.

He was sitting in left field for Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series, his Dodgers versus the New York Mets. He leaned over to his buddy next to him.

“You wait,” he said. “Justin Turner’s gonna hit a triple.”

Piorkowski heard the crack of the bat. He looked up and hurriedly slipped his catching mitt onto his left hand. Turner hit a ground-rule double, and he caught it. The television cameras caught him high-fiving all the fans around him. His daughters saw it on TV at home. Everyone started texting him.

On Saturday, before the Dodgers took on the Chicago Cubs for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Piorkowski stood near his lucky seat, with his mitt. He was sitting in the Top Deck with his wife and two daughters, but he just had to be close to the players, just for a bit. He said being here, with his glove, made him feel like a kid again.

Piorkowski, 52, of Hesperia, recently got a new cellphone, and he loaded the video of him catching the ball onto it because he runs into Dodger fans everywhere.

“It’s recorded history,” he said. “Personal history.”

He even got to meet Justin Turner at a charity golf tournament. He showed him the video of the catch. Turner loved it. He showed Turner’s father. He had him replay it a few times.

“It changed my life,” Piorkowski said. “It was just something really positive.”

Loving the Dodgers has become a family affair for the Piorkowskis. His daughter Macy caught her first foul ball at a Dodger game last year, when she was 9. He said he hadn’t caught one until he was 40.

He takes his daughters, both softball players, to Spring Training. They catch balls often, and they love sharing them with other kids who didn’t get one.

“My kids are cute,” Piorkowski said, laughing. “We get balls.”

Sharing the balls, he said, is “good baseball Karma.”

Macy, 10, said she was excited about the Dodgers and Cubs series.

“I’m feeling lucky,” she said.

Why?

“Because I’m here.”

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Cubs take 2-0 lead on Albert Almora’s home run

Willson Contreras singled to center. Albert Almora homered to left. Does Kershaw think this is the seventh inning?

Addison Russell flied to right. Kyle Schwarber grounded to first. Javier Baez grounded to second.

A lot of the life has gone out of the Dodger Stadium crowd.

ubs Albert Almora Jr. points to his dugout after hitting a two-run home run against Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, right, in the 4th inning.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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Dodgers-Cubs remains scoreless after three

Yasiel Puig grounded to short. Charlie Culberson grounded to short. Clayton Kershaw, after fouling off a few, grounded to third. Three up, three down.

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Cubs fail to score in top of third

Quintana led off the third with a single to right. Jon Jay sacrificed him to second.

Kris Bryant flied to left. Anthony Rizzo flied to right.

Quiet game so far. Except for the announcers.

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Dodgers-Cubs remains scoreless after two innings

The Dodgers recognized famed test pilot Chuck Yeager, uncle of former Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager, before the bottom of the second began.

Enrique Hernandez, batting cleanup, grounded to the pitcher.

Logan Forsythe, 5 for 11 in his career against Quintana, singled sharply to left.

Austin Barnes grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

Cubs Javier Baez contorts his body to get out of a sliding Logan Forsythe as he completes the double play.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

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Round up the usual suspects

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Cubs don’t score in top of second

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner mkaes a stop to throw out Cubs Addison Russell
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner mkaes a stop to throw out Cubs Addison Russell
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Addison Russell grounded to third and Turner made a nice play to throw him out. If not for Nolan Arenado, Turner would win multiple Gold Gloves.

Kyle Schwarber hit into the shift and grounded to second.

Javier Baez struck out looking

Kershaw has made 36 pitches through two innings.

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Dodgers go down in order in first

Chris Taylor leads the NLCS off for the Dodgers and grounds to third.

Can someone please tell TBS announcer Brian Anderson that Taylor is not a rookie?

Justin Turner, batting second with Seager injured, fouled off about six pitches and then struck out.

Cody Bellinger, batting third, struck out.

Jose Quintana made 22 pitches in the first. Kershaw made 23.

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Cubs fail to score in top of first

Clayton Kershaw reacts after giving up a single to Kris Bryant.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Here we go. Game 1.

Jon Jay went down swinging on three pitches. Kris Bryant singled to left.

Anthony Rizzo walked. First and second, one out.

Willson Contreras struck out looking on a curveball.

The TBS announcers never stop talking. Guys, let some suspense build. Crowd noise is important.

Albert Almora grounded to third. The Cubs have a chance and fail to come through. Maybe that will be a pattern.

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You are really bad at finding things

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Autograph or not, Cesar Gimeno Jr. is having a ball

Cesar Gimeno Jr.
(Hailey Branson-Potts / Los Angeles Times)

Cesar Gimeno and his son, Cesar Jr., hopped in the car at home in Las Vegas early Saturday morning, sped west and got to Dodger Stadium a few hours before Saturday’s first NLCS game against the Chicago Cubs.

They stood behind the Dodgers’ dugout as the Boys in Blue took batting practice, joining the crowd of die-hard fans raising their voices and their baseball mitts, hoping for a tossed ball or, by some magical chance, an autograph.

“Codyyyyyyy!” shouted 7-year-old Cesar Jr., or C.J., holding up his mitt as Cody Bellinger walked into the dugout. No luck.

“Kiké!” he tried at Enrique Hernandez. Nothing, he said. Darn.

C.J. wore a Yasiel Puig jersey (he thinks Puig is funny and liked him sticking his tongue out) but said Clayton Kershaw is his favorite Dodger. The second grader said plays baseball, too -- second base, outfield and pitcher -- and that he throws a curve that looks just like Kershaw’s.

“I think the Dodgers are going to win,” C.J. said, clutching a baseball with the Dodgers’ logo on it. “I actually think it’s going to be a close game. The Cubs are playing pretty good.”

The elder Gimeno said they come to batting practice every time they make it to a game. Earlier this year, they got a ball from pitcher Julio Urias.

As they waited for baseballs, Gimeno said he couldn’t wait to try the Cheet-o-lote, corn on the cob slathered in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dust.

Sitting outside the left field, David Winston, 26, was preparing to tuck in to another stadium food creation: a cheeseburger with a sliced Dodger Dog on top and Budweiser barbecue sauce smothered all over it. He thought it looked “unique.”

He took his first bite.

“It’s pretty good,” he said. “Like a 9 out of 10.”

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Corey Seager may not be in the field, but he’s all over the stands

Jose Tafolla took his Corey Seager jersey in to the dry cleaners and got it all washed and pressed for the Dodgers’ first NLCS game against the Chicago Cubs.

He and his buddies were driving to the game Saturday afternoon when Tafolla got an alert from the ESPN app on his phone. Seager, sidelined with a back injury, would not be on the NLCS roster.

Asked what he said when he got that alert, Tafolla laughed and shook his head. It was an expletive.

There were Seager jerseys throughout the crowd that gathered at the stadium hours before the game. In the stairwells, fans strategized, working through possible options where the shortstop could come back. Tafolla wasn’t the only one muttering swear words.

“It’s a big deal,” said the 29-year-old mechanical engineer from Wilmington. He said he was worried because infielder Charlie Culberson hasn’t played much at shortstop for the Dodgers.

“It’s crucial for the series,” said his lifelong friend, Jose Frausto, who was sporting a Clayton Kershaw jersey.

Frausto thought the Dodgers still held an edge with pitching, and he was cautiously optimistic as he watched the Cubs take batting practice while the organ music of Dieter Ruehle blared over the speakers.

The Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988 - the year Frausto was born, he said.

“I’ve been waiting literally my whole life for this,” he said, adding that he’s glad Game 1 wasn’t played yesterday, Friday the 13th.

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Corey Seager discusses his injury and not being on the NLCS roster (video)

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager on his injury that is keeping him out of the NLCS.

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Dave Roberts discusses Corey Seager and Game 1

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts comments on Corey Seager’s injury before game 1 of the NLCS.

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Corey Seager not on the Dodgers’ NLCS roster

Corey Seager swings
Corey Seager
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Sidelined with an injured back, Corey Seager is not on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series against the Cubs.

Seager injured his back on a slide in Game 3 of the first round against Arizona. He did not participate in workouts this week, but manager Dave Roberts insisted he was “very optimistic” Seager would be ready to play by Game 1. Instead, his name was not listed on the roster released on the morning before Game 1.

Roberts described Seager’s injury as a “muscular issue.” Seager did not make himself available to reporters on either Thursday or Friday. The Dodgers could, conceivably, place another player on the disabled list later in the series to add Seager, but that player would not be eligible if the Dodgers advance to the World Series.

With Seager out, the team added infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson to the roster. Reliever Pedro Baez did not make the cut.

Culberson took grounders at shortstop during a workout on Friday along with Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor. Both Hernandez and Taylor primarily play the outfield, but both have experience at shortstop. Either could be an option on Saturday, with the Cubs starting left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana.

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