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Levine: Bullpen Change Blows Up For Cubs In Game 1 Loss To Dodgers

By Bruce Levine--

LOS ANGELES (CBS) -- A decision to adjust a roster spot in the bullpen in the National League Championship Series had immediate negative results for the Cubs.

Righty reliever Hector Rondon was the goat in his first postseason outing this fall, allowing the go-ahead homer to Chris Taylor in the sixth inning of the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Dodgers in Game 1 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. Left off the NL Division Series roster, Rondon replaced lefty reliever Justin Wilson for this round and was being counted upon to help fortify a weary Chicago bullpen that was taxed in the first five playoff games.

Instead, he fit in with the rest of the leaky Cubs bullpen, which had a 6.75 ERA in the NLDS.

"I missed the location on the pitch," Rondon said. "The ball ran away a little bit and when you miss, they make you pay. My intensity was certainly up. As I said, when you miss a pitch, especially against teams in the playoffs, they make you pay. I threw it a little bit in the sun, and he got me."

The Cubs struck first on Albert Almora Jr.'s two-run homer in the fourth inning off Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw before Los Angeles tied it in the fifth inning on a Yasiel Puig RBI double and a Charlie Culberson sacrifice fly.

Quintana took a no-decision, going five innings and allowing two runs, both earned, on two hits and two walks while striking out four. He was hurt by issuing back-to-back walks in the fifth.

Quintana had a whirlwind previous 48 hours. After coming on in relief in the NLDS on Thursday, his wife had a health issue on the team charter from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. The plane had to divert to New Mexico so she could receive medical attention, and he accompanied her. The Cubs didn't even name him their Game 1 starter until late Saturday morning after they'd checked to make sure he was comfortable taking the ball.

"I thought he had had it," manager Joe Maddon said of pulling Quintana. "Emotionally, he was pretty much drained at that point. The couple of walks were an indicator of that."

Once again though, it was the Cubs bullpen that was the concern. All three relievers Maddon brought in allowed run-scoring hits. In addition to Rondon's trouble, Mike Montgomery served up a homer to Puig and John Lackey allowed an RBI single to Justin Turner, a run that was charged to Montgomery.

On the flip side, the Dodgers bullpen threw four perfect innings after Kershaw exited. He threw five innings of two-run ball.

"This is just game 1," Montgomery said. "We are not going to get down on ourselves. It is just that time of year where you are going to get punched around. You just have to man up and come back from it. We have done that a lot in the past. They are a really good team over there. We can't just play good for a half of a game. We will be all right. We are not going to let one loss get us down. We will all be ready for Game 2."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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