The Los Angeles Dodgers relied on a true and tried recipe to defeat the Chicago Cubs and take a 3-0 lead in the National League Championship Series. Chris Taylor led the Dodgers with an RBI triple and home run in their 6-1 methodical rout at Wrigley Field.
Just as they did in Games 1 and 2, it was the Cubs who jumped out to a lead via solo home run. On Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber who lifted the first pitch he saw from Yu Darvish for an opposite-field home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Darvish settled in from there, and the Dodgers quickly went to work against Kyle Hendricks. Andre Ethier lined a solo home run to right field in the second inning, and Taylor drove one to straightaway center field that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
In his first start of the postseason, Joc Pederson led off the fifth inning with a double down the right-field line. Darvish’s sacrifice bunt attempt was thwarted, but Taylor followed with a triple
to left field.
Kris Bryant’s fielding error that allowed Yasiel Puig to reach to lead off the sixth inning served as an omen of what was to come. Ethier lined a base hit into center field, which knocked Hendricks out of the game.
Carl Edwards Jr. walked Austin Barnes to load the bases, retired Pederson, only to walk Darvish on four pitches and bring a run in. Curtis Granderson had been on deck to pinch-hit but was pulled back.
It was the first bases-loaded walk of a pitcher in the postseason since 1977, when the Dodgers’ Burt Hooton walked Philadelphia Phillies’ Larry Christenson in Game 3 of the NLCS.
Edwards Jr. recovered to strike out Taylor, and was showered with boos as he walked off the field. Mike Montgomery ran into trouble in the eighth, and saw a run score on a strikeout, because he crossed up Willson Contreras and the ball rolled away.
Kyle Farmer’s sacrifice fly extended the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1 and prompted another pitching change before the Cubs could get out of the inning.
The insurance runs were more than enough for Darvish and the Dodgers bullpen. Darvish allowed six hits and struck out over 6.1 innings of work on an efficient 81 pitches. He only once faced a situation where a runner was in scoring position.
That came in the fourth inning, when an Addison Russell infield single stayed fair until hitting third base, was followed by a Jason Heyward walk. It in some sense was by design, as Darvish struck out Hendricks to end the inning.
Darvish worked around a leadoff single in the sixth by striking out Willson Contreras and inducing Jon Jay into an inning-ending double play. Tony Watson, Brandon Morrow, Ross Stripling and Kenley Jansen combined for 2.1 scoreless innings in relief.
Stripling allowed a leadoff single, which snapped the Cubs’ 0-for-29 skid against the Dodgers bullpen. Albert Almora Jr. doubled to left field, which forced Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ hand in turning to Jansen.
Through three NLCS games, Dodgers relievers have combined to retire 32 of 36 batters faced.
By Matthew Moreno