Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
CHICAGO — Yu Darvish stood center stage Tuesday night and realized he couldn’t allow his already hostile surroundings to become any more energized.
Giving up a first-inning home run that forced the Los Angeles Dodgers to play from behind for the third straight game didn’t help. However, Darvish quickly was able to silence Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs, putting the Dodgers on the verge of their first World Series appearance since 1998.
Darvish allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings, and Chris Taylor homered and drove in two runs as the Dodgers moved to within a victory of the National League pennant with a 6-1 victory over the defending World Series champion Cubs.
The Dodgers can advance with a win in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series on Wednesday night.
Darvish struck out seven, scattered six hits and walked one as the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The right-hander also drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
“The story of the night, obviously, is Yu Darvish,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “After that first homer that he gave up … he was dominant. He just had that rhythm, the poise and didn’t allow whole lot of hard contact.”
And what Darvish started, the Los Angeles bullpen finished.
The Cubs, who hadn’t managed a hit off Dodgers relievers in the NLCS, put runners on second and third in the ninth when Alex Avila singled and Albert Almora Jr. followed with a double off right-hander Ross Stripling. However, Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen got Addison Russell to pop out to first and then struck out Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ to close out the victory.
As good as Dodgers pitchers were on the back end, Darvish — who yielded a solo home run to Kyle Schwarber in the first inning — kept Cubs hitters off-balance all night.
“I really didn’t change much approach-wise from first inning until the end of the game,” Darvish said. “I just kept pitching the same way.”
As they have throughout the series, the Dodgers gave their pitchers plenty of offensive support.
The Dodgers led 3-1 entering the sixth. After Yasiel Puig reached on an error by Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Andre Ethier singled and Austin Barnes walked to load the bases. Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. got Joc Pederson to fly out for the second out, but then he walked Darvish on four pitches to extend the margin to three.
Los Angeles tacked on a pair of runs in the eighth to break the game open. After a walk to Logan Forsythe and a Barnes single, Forsythe scored when Mike Montgomery’s pitch bounded off the arm of catcher Willson Contreras, which allowed Barnes to advance to third base. Kyle Farmer followed with a sacrifice fly that gave the Dodgers their biggest lead.
The Cubs, who have scored four runs in the series, again failed to mount much offense.
“They just seem to be doing everything right right now,” said Bryant, who had two hits Tuesday. “Good at-bats, good bullpen, good starting pitching. We just got beat.”
With Los Angeles trailing 1-0 after Schwarber’s homer, Ethier drew the Dodgers even with a solo home run on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Hendricks in the second inning.
Taylor broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning with a solo home run before he extended the lead to 3-1 lead with a fifth-inning RBI triple that scored Pederson, who doubled.
Hendricks gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits in five-plus innings as the Dodgers remained unbeaten in the postseason.
“Obviously we’re excited to be up 3-0, but honestly, we’ve just been taking it one game at a time and just focusing on getting one win,” Taylor said. “So we’ll come in with the same mindset tomorrow and focus on getting that one win.”
NOTES: Dodgers C Austin Barnes started his fourth straight game. Manager Dave Roberts opted to keep Barnes in the lineup as opposed to Yasmani Grandal, who has struggled against Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks. Roberts said Tuesday he expects Grandal to start in Game 4 on Wednesday against Chicago RHP Jake Arrieta. … Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning home run gave him six postseason homers, which ties him with 1B Anthony Rizzo for the franchise record. … Chicago 2B Javy Baez did not start for the first time in the NLCS as he was mired in an 0-for-19 postseason slump. Manager Joe Maddon said he prefers to have Baez in the game for defensive purposes, but instead started Ben Zobrist, who hit in the leadoff spot for Chicago. Baez popped out as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. … Rizzo snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a sixth-inning single.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs return home in a two-games-to-none hole in the National League Championship Series and with plenty of questions left unanswered after back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Will their struggling offense find a way to recover? What’s wrong with a bullpen that yielded late runs in both losses, including surrendering a walk-off, three-run home run Sunday night in Chicago’s 4-1 setback in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium?
With time now running short on his team’s World Series title defense, Cubs manager Joe Maddon realizes that if his team is going to bounce back, it has to be soon. Heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Maddon points back to the NL Division Series against the Washington Nationals, when many of the same concerns arose before Chicago found a way to win and advance.
“I obviously wanted to win one out of those two (games in Los Angeles). We didn’t. That’s reality,” Maddon said Monday. “There is reality and there is fantasy. People like to tend to deal with fantasy. It’s reality. So we’ve got to come back here and get ourselves back together.”
In need of a win, the Cubs will turn to Kyle Hendricks, who pitched four innings in the NLDS-clinching victory last week over the Nationals. Chicago won both of Hendricks’ NLDS starts, but the Cubs will need to find a way to produce some offense after scoring just three runs and collecting only seven hits in the two weekend losses to the Dodgers.
Hendricks is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers, whom he will face for the first time this year on Tuesday night. Despite the Cubs’ 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven series, Hendricks said Monday he doesn’t consider Tuesday a must-win.
“Our team doesn’t really approach games like that,” Hendricks said. “You hear the way Joe (Maddon) speaks about it. For us, this is just Game 170, I think it’s going to be. So, yeah, we’re down 2-0. Obviously we know we need to get wins at this point. But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We’ve just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball.”
The Dodgers head into Tuesday still unbeaten in the postseason and confident after Justin Turner’s ninth-inning, three-run blast Sunday night. Yu Darvish takes the mound for Los Angeles, having won his lone playoff start to date this year. On Oct. 9 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he allowed one run, two hits and struck out seven over five innings in a 3-1 victory.
Darvish has allowed just two earned runs and struck out 28 in his past four outings dating back to the regular season. The right-hander will make just his second career start against the Cubs, after allowing two runs in 4 1/3 innings during a loss with the Texas Rangers in 2016.
The 31-year-old Japan native hopes to continue the mastery that the Dodgers have had in silencing Chicago’s bats in the first two games of the series. But as much as the Cubs have struggled to hit thus far, Darvish realizes he has to be careful with a lineup that possesses plenty of dangerous hitters.
“They’ve got (a) really good lineup from top to bottom, and they play as a team so there is nobody in that lineup that I can get easy on,” Darvish said. “So it’s going to be a battle, and I just want to take one pitch at a time, one guy at a time.
LA Dodgers 6, Chicago Cubs 0
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES – (Wire Service Report) – Throw the Tuesday loss out with the trash, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
“For me, it’s about putting this one in the wastebasket, come back and play (Wednesday),” Maddon said. “It’s one day at a time. I’ve preached that all season long.”
Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner homered, and the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the Cubs for the second game in a row, earning a 6-0 victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers starter Rich Hill threw six shutout innings as Los Angeles grabbed a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series. Hill (1-0) allowed just two hits with six strikeouts and two walks to become the only Los Angeles pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw to win a postseason start this month.
“It’s the biggest game of my career,” Hill said. “Again, it’s all about staying in the moment and executing when you’re in that moment, and that’s all you can think about.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was pleased to see Hill, who issued both of his walks in the second inning, deliver a quality start in the playoffs.
“He still has a very good chance to get guys out, but I think that his preparedness, his guts, really kept those guys at bay,” Roberts said. “But changing speeds, pitching off the breaking ball, mixing in the fastball, yeah, he kept them off-balance all night.”
Relievers Joe Blanton and Grant Dayton combined to work 1 2/3 scoreless innings before Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen recorded the final four outs.
Game 4 is Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
CHICAGO – (Wire Service Report) – Four hours before Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was stretching down the first base line, about 50 feet into the outfield grass. Manager Dave Roberts was beside him, on his haunches.
They were not counting the blades of grass.
Ninety minutes later, a reassured Roberts announced Kershaw as his starter for Game 2 on Sunday.
As if there was any question.
The Cubs used Miguel Montero’s pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning for an 8-4 victory in the first game of the NLCS, their fourth win in five postseason games. Now it is up to three-time Cy Young Award winner Kershaw to even the series against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
Kershaw will make his second start of the postseason after helping the Dodgers into the NLCS with his first career save. He got the final two outs of a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday.
Starting pitchers normally throw a bullpen session three days before their next scheduled start, so in a way Kershaw was sticking with his routine when he replaced Kenley Jansen with a runner on first base and threw seven pitches to get out of the ninth inning Thursday.
In a way.
“Intensity might have been just a hair different, but I think I would guess just the quantity was probably pretty similar, I would say,” Kershaw said drily.
Kershaw was 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA this season, but he pitched only 149 innings because of a back injury that kept him out for about 10 weeks. The light workload may work to his advantage against a Cubs team that was second in the league in the regular season in runs (808) and on-base percentage (.343).
“The Cubs’ lineup is pretty solid, obviously,” Kershaw said. “They have some guys in there that had some pretty amazing seasons, and they’re the best team in baseball for a reason.
Cubs 8, Dodgers 4
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, October 15, 2016
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
CHICAGO – (Wire Service Report) – Miguel Montero said he had been ready for this moment since mid-afternoon. Entering Saturday night’s National League Championship Series opener as a pinch hitter with two out and bases loaded in the eighth inning, Montero launched an 0-2 pitch from reliever Joe Blanton for a grand slam home run as the Cubs rolled to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“To be honest, I started getting loose about three o’clock,” Montero said. “As a kid, you dream of these situations and that’s what you live for.”
It was the first time in major league history that a pinch-hit grand slam provided the game-winning run in a postseason game. Dexter Fowler added a solo shot in an explosive eighth as Chicago scored five times on the way to a 1-0 NLCS lead over the Dodgers. Chicago snapped a 3-3 tie after giving up the lead earlier in the inning after closer Aroldis Chapman was hit for two eighth-inning runs when he entered with bases loaded. Chapman struck out the first two batters but gave up a two-out single to Adrian Gonzalez that drove in pinch hitters Andrew Toles and Chase Utley to tie the game.
“Throughout his career, Adrian’s gotten so many big hits,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Big hit and, yeah, right there I thought we were going to win it.”
But Ben Zobrist opened the Cubs’ eighth with a double to deep right and Jason Heyward and pinch hitter Chris Coghlan were intentionally walked by Blanton, a right-handed reliever. That set the stage for the left-handed batting Montero, pinch hitting for Chapman. He sent Blanton’s 0-2 pitch to right to clear the bases. Fowler followed with a solo homer to right.
“I would do the same thing all over again,” Roberts said. “Ten times out of 10 I would take Joe Blanton against Montero. (But) he took a good swing on an 0-2 pitch and it’s going to happen. That’s baseball.”
LA Dodgers 4, Washington 3
Where: Nationals Park, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON DC – (Wire Service Report) – Kenley Jansen knelt in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ clubhouse next to a dry erase board that was just outside a room filled with beer-soaked players early Friday morning.
Jansen normally starts to get loose in the eighth inning before pitching the ninth. Late Thursday night, however, he started to warm up in the sixth inning and came on in the seventh to face the Washington Nationals with his team leading by a run.
“They told me to be ready for the top of the order,” said Jansen, who logged 51 pitches. “Every pitch was with a purpose.”
Jansen got seven outs (four on strikeouts) while allowing no runs and one hit, and Clayton Kershaw got the last two outs in the ninth as the Dodgers beat the Nationals 4-3 in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Division Series.
The Dodgers, who won the series 3-2 with victories in the last two games, head to Chicago to play the Cubs on Saturday in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
“We still have to win eight more games,” Kershaw said.
Entering with two runners on and one out, Kershaw retired Daniel Murphy on an infield fly and then fanned rookie Wilmer Difo to earn the save. On Tuesday, Kershaw was the starting pitcher for the Dodgers in a Game 4 win.
“Incredible,” Washington starting pitcher Max Scherzer said of the effort by Kershaw.
Kershaw said of manager Dave Roberts, “I came to him. I just wanted to be available.”
The Nationals are now winless in their three trips to the NLDS, losing in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Washington won the NL East each of those years but has yet to advance beyond the opening round of the playoffs. The city of Washington has not seen the home team earn a postseason series win since the Washington Senators captured the 1924 World Series.
“Yeah, it’s not an overnight process. But I mean, yeah, you do have to go through some pain,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “I’ve gone through the pain a few times now. But you know, you have to persevere. That’s the story of life. You can’t stop trying to reach your goal.”
Carlos Ruiz had the go-ahead single in a four-run seventh to make a loser of Marc Rzepczynski (0-1), and Justin Turner added a two-run triple to give Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Jansen entered the game with no outs in the seventh after Washington pinch hitter Chris Heisey belted a two-run home run off Grant Dayton.
Bryce Harper singled to left with one out as pinch runner Joe Ross, a pitcher who started Game 4, went from first to third. But Jansen fanned Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Jansen retired the side in the eighth but issued consecutive one-out walks to Harper and Werth in the ninth as Kershaw warmed up.
Joc Pederson, the only player with two hits, led off the seventh with a solo homer to left off Scherzer to tie the game at 1-1. That ended the night for Scherzer, who gave up the one run on five hits with seven strikeouts in six-plus innings while throwing 98 pitches.
“They executed a little bit better than we did,” Scherzer said. “Greatest game I have ever been a part of.”
Yasmani Grandal walked and Howie Kendrick had a pinch-hit single in the seventh. Ruiz then had a pinch-hit RBI single off lefty Sammy Solis that glanced off the glove of Rendon’s glove into left field as pinch runner Austin Barnes scored the go-ahead run to make it 2-1.
With two outs, Turner crushed his two-run triple off Shawn Kelley to center to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead. Kelley left the game with an apparent injury after throwing a pitch to the next batter, Adrian Gonzalez. Oliver Perez come on to retire Gonzalez and end the eight-batter inning.
The Nationals had threatened in the sixth. Werth led off with a walk. With two outs, Ryan Zimmerman hit a double down the left field line, but Werth was thrown out easily at the plate on a relay from left fielder Howie Kendrick to shortstop Corey Seager to catcher Grandal.
“We had a great opportunity to get more runs,” Harper said. “It just didn’t happen.”
Baker said of third base coach Bob Henley, who sent Werth, “He feels terrible about that because it didn’t work out. But you know, that wasn’t what lost the game, really. We had some chances with runners on third, less than two outs. That was kind of the story of the year. We didn’t get them home. It’s tough to take, a tough loss.”
The winning pitcher was rookie Julio Urias, who threw two scoreless innings in his postseason debut. Urias, 20, became the youngest Dodgers pitcher ever to appear in a playoff game.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second as Danny Espinosa, batting .091 in the series, hit an RBI single to right.
Chase Utley led off the game by lining out to center fielder Trea Turner, who made a diving catch in left-center.
Then Turner led off the last of the first and hit a comebacker that struck pitcher Rich Hill’s glove and deflected off his left (pitching) wrist before the veteran threw out Turner at first. Hill made a few warmup pitches and stayed in the game.
Hill wound up lasting just 2 2/3 innings, giving up one run and three hits with six strikeouts. He was replaced by Joe Blanton, who retired Rendon on a liner to center with runners on second and third to end the third. Blanton was replaced by Urias.
Urias allowed a walk with two outs in the fifth to Harper, who was then picked off for the third out. There were more dramatics to come as Jansen and Kershaw pitched in unusual situations.
“I just felt that Kenley was going to go out there and give us everything he had, and for that Murphy at-bat (in the ninth), I wanted Clayton, so I felt good about it,” Roberts said.
NOTES: Washington manager Dusty Baker said before the game “it would be a miracle” for RHP Stephen Strasburg to pitch in the NL Championship Series if the Nationals had advanced. Strasburg was out since Sept. 7 with a flexor mass strain in his right elbow. … Former Washington RHP Livan Hernandez threw out the first pitch to 1B Ryan Zimmerman, his former teammate. Hernandez pitched for the Nationals in 2005-06 and 2009-11. … Also on hand was University of Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson, a long-time friend of fellow California native Baker.