Cubs take AZL Finals to the limit

Vargas pitches gem to force decisive third game

Didier Vargas has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his last 12 appearances. (Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography)

By Josh Horton / | August 31, 2018 11:34 PM

With their backs against the wall, the Cubs 1 needed a sterling performance to stay alive in Arizona League Championship Series. 

Didier Vargas delivered. 

The left-hander allowed two hits and struck out seven over 6 2/3 scoreless innings on Friday as the Cubs blanked the Dodgers, to even the best-of-3 Finals at one win apiece at Camelback Ranch.

Gameday box score

After giving up a one-out single in the first to Leonel Valera, Vargas retired the next seven hitters until Aldrich De Jongh led off the fourth with a single. Then he mowed down 11 consecutive Dodgers before exiting a scoreless contest. 

The 19-year-old posted a 3.27 ERA in 12 appearances, including eight starts, during the regular season with 43-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 52 1/3 innings. Friday was his first playoff outing.

Fauris Guerrero (1-0) hit a batter over 2 1/3 innings otherwise perfect innings for the win. The 21-year-old right-hander owned a 1.62 ERA in 21 appearances this season. 

The Cubs offense woke up in the eighth, with Christopher Morel hitting a leadoff single and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Josue Huma. Franklin Tineo tacked on an insurance run with an RBI groundout in the ninth after Dalton Hurd reached on an error. 

Reliever Guillermo Zuniga (0-1) took the loss, allowing a run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He fanned six and walked two.

The Cubs will host the decisive third game of the series on Saturday.  

Josh Horton is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @joshhortonMiLB This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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