After a dramatic 1-0 victory in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised their way to a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium in Tuesday’s Game 3.

The Dodgers lead the series 2-1 and are two victories away from their first World Series appearance since 1988. 

Starting pitcher Rich Hill set the tone for Los Angeles with a brilliant outing. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just two hits with six strikeouts. The Dodgers reacted to his pressure-packed performance:

Most of Los Angeles’ offense came off Chicago starter Jake Arrieta, who pitched five-plus innings and allowed four earned runs and six hits. Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner each took him deep with home runs, and Corey Seager finished with three hits and an RBI.

The Cubs couldn’t match that production, and Baseball Tonight painted a concerning picture for the North Siders:

Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated noted things seemed to be back to normal for the franchise that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 after it notched 103 victories during the regular season:

Despite the loss, the Cubs were the first to threaten in the second inning when Anthony Rizzo walked and stole second after a handful of pickoff attempts. Jorge Soler then walked, and they each advanced a base on a passed ball, but Addison Russell continued his prolonged postseason struggles with a strikeout. Miguel Montero grounded out to end the inning.

Jayson Stark of pointed out Hill’s escape wasn’t all good news for the Dodgers:

However, Hill settled down after that lengthy inning and stifled the Cubs.

Los Angeles opened the scoring in the third when Andrew Toles singled, advanced to second on a groundout from Hill and scored on Seager’s RBI single. ESPN Stats & Info noted it was a rare hit in that situation for the shortstop:

The Dodgers got to Arrieta again in the fourth when Josh Reddick reached on an infield single and stole second and third base. Grandal then blasted his home run to center, and Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score in Chicago said, “Running game got to Jake. Afraid to bury that curve like he needed to. Hung one, then went with the fastball instead.”

While it was still early in the game, the three runs were enough for Los Angeles with Hill dealing and the Chicago offense mired in a slump. Pedro Gomez of ESPN underscored how dire the situation was for the Cubs after Hill retired the side in the fourth and fifth innings:

Los Angeles gave Hill and the bullpen even more run support in the sixth when Turner drilled a home run and drove Arrieta from the game. He was far from the dominant ace who won last year’s National League Cy Young, and the Dodgers lineup took full advantage with timely power.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts handed the ball to his bullpen with the four-run lead in the seventh, and Joe Blanton pitched a perfect inning in a bounce-back effort after he allowed five earned runs in Game 1.

Chicago relief pitchers Travis Wood and Justin Grimm kept the game at 4-0, and Los Angeles turned to Grant Dayton to start the eighth. He retired two but allowed a double to Dexter Fowler, so Roberts went to closer Kenley Jansen for the four-out finish.

Yahoo Sports’ Big League Stew noted Roberts wasn’t going to risk a late comeback from the Cubs:

Jansen struck out Kris Bryant, and the Dodgers offense put the game on ice in the bottom of the eighth with two more runs off an RBI double from Joc Pederson and an RBI groundout from Grandal. Jansen responded with a scoreless ninth, clinching a 2-1 series lead for the Dodgers.    


What’s Next?

Game 4 is Wednesday in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers have the opportunity to close this series out without ever having to go back to Chicago with two straight home wins. Clayton Kershaw looms as a potential option in Game 5, so a victory Wednesday would be a critical blow to the Cubs.

Los Angeles will start Julio Urias in Game 4. The 20-year-old pitched two shutout innings against the Washington Nationals in the Division Series but has never made a postseason start. He finished his rookie season with a 3.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

The Cubs will counter with John Lackey. The playoff-tested veteran has 24 postseason appearances on his resume with a 3.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in those outings. However, he lasted just four innings in his Division Series start against the San Francisco Giants and allowed three earned runs.

He will need to be better Wednesday for the Cubs to avoid a daunting 3-1 hole.


Postgame Reaction

Hill summarized his outing after the win, per Dodger Insider: “It was the biggest game of my career.”

He also praised his catcher for helping him battle through the second inning, per Dodger Insider: “Yas did a great job of getting me back on track.”

On the other side, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, “It’s about putting this in the waste basket and coming back tomorrow,” per 670 The Score in Chicago.

Maddon described how that can happen, per 670 The Score in Chicago: “We just need to get a couple hits and runs early to kind of get that feeling back.”

Bryant still had confidence after the loss, per Carrie Muskat of “We’ve done it all year. We’re here for a reason. Belief is very powerful, and I think we all have that.”

If that belief doesn’t translate to actual runs, the NLCS will end quickly for the struggling Cubs.

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