Alzolay allowed two second-inning home runs, including a Zach McKinstry grand slam in the Cubs’ 7-1 loss to the Dodgers.
LOS ANGELES — Cubs rookie right-hander Adbert Alzolay’s development as a starting pitcher has gone relatively smoothly, considering it’s his first season in the rotation.
But Alzolay struggled to find his command early in a 7-1 loss Sunday to the Dodgers and had a second inning to forget.
One of the things that has made Alzolay successful this season has been his ability to throw strikes and not let walks and a lack of command beat him. But against a team known for working counts, Alzolay was clearly off.
‘‘I just couldn’t find my rhythm in the game,’’ Alzolay said. ‘‘I felt like my body was super-slow to home plate. I was throwing everything back behind my head. I just couldn’t find my rhythm.’’
Alzolay fell behind in the count to the first two batters he faced but was able to get a double play to end the first. He wasn’t able to get away with his loss of control in the second, however.
Alzolay hit the first batter of the inning and proceeded to walk the next two, which brought a visit to the mound from pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.
After Hottovy’s visit, however, Alzolay left a slider over the inner third of the plate, and Dodgers second baseman Zach McKinstry didn’t miss it. His grand slam gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
‘‘If you throw [the slider] for chase, it’s not gonna work when you don’t have fastball command,’’ Alzolay said. ‘‘Everything today, all my pitches were all over the place. When you wanna throw the pitch for chase, they’re not gonna swing because they know that you can’t command it.’’
In an inning where so little went right for Alzolay, he could have used some help on defense. But that didn’t happen, either. After an error by shortstop Javy Baez, Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger launched his second home run in as many days to boost the lead to 6-0.
‘‘His rhythm in general, just [not] syncing up his mechanics, leading to sporadic command,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Slider didn’t really look like it had a lot of shape to it, either. He was battling himself out there. Trying to let him figure it out a little bit.’’
The six runs were the most Alzolay has given up in a start this season, and his three innings pitched were tied for his shortest start.
After their combined no-hitter Thursday, the Cubs weren’t able to do much against the Dodgers, especially offensively, and combined for 45 strikeouts in the last three games of the series.
Now they’ll face another tough test in Milwaukee, with right-handers Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes scheduled to start for the Brewers. The Cubs enter that series three games behind the Brewers in the National League Central.
‘‘We do a really good job of resetting,’’ Ross said. ‘‘We come in, and these guys do a nice job of competing nightly. I think division [games] always bring a little extra and the guys that are leading the division that you’re chasing always bring a little extra.
‘‘[The Brewers] caught us early in the season. Whether that’s a product of how well they were pitching or a product of us not being where we needed to be yet, I think those are the things we’ll find out this week.
‘‘But they’ve got a good staff; we know that. They’ve got a good team. That’s why they’re in first place. We just have to go out there and compete and be ourselves and play our brand of baseball.’’