CHICAGO — The also-ran Chicago Cubs learned a valuable lesson from the playoff-hopeful Los Angeles Dodgers: Don't take anything for granted in a pennant race.
The Cubs held a three-run lead on Thursday night before they came apart in an 8-4 loss that snapped their three-game winning streak.
Chicago allowed seven runs and committed three errors in the final three innings.
Limited to no runs and five singles in the first six innings, the Dodgers broke out for five runs in the seventh. They moved 2 1-2 games ahead of idle San Francisco in the NL West race.
"They kept grinding," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of the Dodgers. "Those are the things we talk about — playing nine innings of baseball. We've been talking about that since spring training. They saw an example of what can happen (otherwise)."
While Los Angeles made several mistakes in the field and on the basepaths, Chicago looked to be the more focused team. The momentum changed abruptly in the seventh, when the Dodgers sent eight batters to the plate against Neil Ramirez (2-3), the third of seven Cubs pitchers. All but one of the five runs was unearned.
Cubs rookie second baseman Logan Watkins couldn't handle Juan Uribe's hard-hit grounder with one out. That allowed the first run to score on a fielder's choice.
"It happened really quickly," Renteria said. "They hit a couple balls hard, but there were a couple plays we could have made."
Los Angeles rebounded to win for only the second time this season — against 54 losses — when trailing after six innings.
The Dodgers tacked on a run in the eighth on Drew Butera's bases-loaded walk, and one in the ninth on Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly.
Eight Dodgers had one RBI apiece.
Los Angeles overcame a shaky start by Zack Greinke, who allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings. Paco Rodriguez (1-0), the first of four Dodgers relievers, pitched a scoreless sixth to earn the win.
Chicago starter Tsuyoshi Wada pitched five solid innings, allowing one run and five hits. He had five strikeouts. The left-hander faced just nine hitters in the first three innings.
The 33-year-old Wada was told that this start would be his final one of the season. He has been bothered by a left hamstring in recent weeks.
"Looking back, personally, I feel that I had a good year when you consider I didn't have any major league numbers," Wada said through an interpreter.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first when their first four hitters reached base, with Valbuena and Soler lining RBI singles.
The Dodgers cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth when Scott Van Slyke scored on A.J. Ellis' ground out.
The Cubs used four straight singles and a sacrifice fly by Olt to add two runs in the fifth. Among the hits was a grounder by Valbuena that skipped under Gordon's glove at second base.
"It honestly didn't look very good early," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "But at this point, it doesn't matter that happens to you. If you walk away with a W, you feel good about it."
Dodgers: SS Hanley Ramirez returned to the starting lineup after missing two games due to a strained right elbow. LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu was expected to rejoin the Dodgers on Thursday, but Mattingly wouldn't predict when he will return to the rotation. Ryu, 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA this season, received a cortisone injection in his sore left shoulder on Monday.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo (strained lower back) was available as a pinch-hitter. Rizzo, second in the NL with 31 homers, missed 18 games before returning Monday and hitting a walk-off, ninth inning shot in Chicago's 1-0 win over Cincinnati. Rizzo was rested on Tuesday, but started Wednesday. ... INF/OF Arismendy Alcantara (sprained right wrist) took part in batting practice, but remains day to day.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (19-3, 1.70) tries to become the first 20-game winner in the majors this season — and reach that mark for the second time in his career — when he faces Chicago RHP Edwin Jackson (6-14, 6.09) on Friday. Kershaw was 21-5 in 2011.
Jackson will make his first start since Aug. 20 (strained right lat), an 8-3 loss at San Francisco when he allowed seven runs in 2 2-3 innings.
DOWN THE STRETCH:
As the Dodgers shorten their rotation for the postseason, it will include Kershaw, Greinke and ...
Mattingly didn't rule out Ryu being back in the rotation next week, but wasn't specific. "It's going to be a few days, but we're going to get him back, Mattingly said. "Monday would be a stretch."
Ryu left his start last Friday in San Francisco after one inning, complaining of tightness and pain in his shoulder. He said the injury felt similar to one that landed him on the disabled list earlier this season. Tests revealed only inflammation.
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