Dodgers move within win of AZL crown

Zabala paces offense with bases-clearing triple in six-run sixth

Juan Zabala has collected 16 extra-base hits over his first three professional seasons. (Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | August 31, 2018 12:45 AM

Perhaps the unlikeliest of heroes helped put the Dodgers on the brink of the Rookie-level Arizona League championship.

Los Angeles catching prospect Juan Zabala delivered a three-RBI triple as the Dodgers plated six runs in the sixth to rally past the Cubs 1, 7-3, in the first game of the best-of-3 Championship Series on Thursday night. 

The 19-year-old laced the three-bagger -- his first of the season -- to right field with two outs in the sixth. Entering Thursday, the Sincelejo, Colombia native had just a .139 average with two extra-base hits (both doubles) and five RBIs in 72 at-bats. 


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Ismael Alcantara and Aldo Espinoza singled in a run apiece earlier in the frame, and Aldrich De Jongh, whose bat led the Dodgers to the final series, added an RBI single to cap the frame. The wild inning ended when Rolando Lebron was caught stealing home. 

Zabala had played in two games since Aug. 19 and went 0-for-7 over that span. It also provided him with some redemption for an earlier miscue. The Cubs scored the game's first run in the second when Zabala allowed a passed ball that enabled Yonathan Perlaza to cross the plate. Zabala threw out Josue Huma at third base to end the inning and prevent further damage. He also walked for the 10th time this season in the fifth. 

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Peyton Remy turned in a solid starting effort for the Cubs. The right-hander allowed one hit through four scoreless innings. But Sauryn Lao led off the fifth with a home run to left field to tie the game. Remy (6-1), a 17th-round Draft pick in 2017, finished with eight strikeouts over five innings and lowered his ERA to 1.80 through eight starts (12 appearances). 

The Cubs went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position while the Dodgers fared slightly better at 4-for-15. The Cubs committed three errors during the game -- two that elongated the pivotal sixth. 

Aldry Acosta gave up two earned runs on five hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win. Nathan Witt notched the final two outs. Starter Robinson Ortiz allowed one run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts over four frames.

Game 2 will take place Friday at 8 p.m. ET. 

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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