Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


LOS ANGELES -- Rich Hill never strayed from his mindset of pitching in the moment, even when he was far from the major leagues playing independent ball with the Long Island Ducks.

Convinced there would be another opportunity to get back to the big leagues, he focused on executing pitches without worrying about his current circumstances.

Fourteen months later, Hill allowed two hits over six innings to beat Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs 6-0 Wednesday, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-1 NL Championship Series lead.

"It's the biggest game of my career," Hill said. "It's just putting in the work, putting in the time, having a routine, persevere, all those things that you can say to sum up some kind of endurance or resiliency. For me, that's all I've ever known is just work."

Rookie Corey Seager had three hits, including a go-ahead single in the third, and Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

After winning a big league-high 103 games during the regular season and sparking belief they could win the World Series for the first time since 1908, the Cubs have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 2014, managing just six hits - five of them singles. Their 18 straight scoreless innings mark the longest postseason drought in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"More than anything, I think we need to get a couple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feeling back," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "because, obviously, when you're not scoring any runs, it makes it even more difficult in the dugout."

Hill, who made two starts in the independent Atlantic League in August 2015 before signing a minor league deal with Boston , struck out six and walked two. Joe BlantonGrant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finished. Playing their 200th postseason game, the Dodgers posted consecutive shutouts for the first time.

Julio Urias starts Game 4 for the Dodgers on Wednesday and at 20 years, 68 days will become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. John Lackey starts for the Cubs.

"He's not scared of the moment," Seager said of Urias. "He's not scared of anything."

Hill was acquired from Oakland along with Josh Reddick at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The 36-year-old left-hander struggled with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand that landed him on the disabled list from mid-July to late August. The blister still bothered him in the final weeks of the regular season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled him after seven perfect innings against Miami on Sept. 10, saying the team had to keep its focus on bigger goals in October.

Hill was strong from the start against one of his former teams, retiring the side to open the game and later eight in a row. He's given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA to 0.39.

"When he's got that attitude out there, you can tell," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "That's when you know he's rolling, that his pitches are working, and he's doing what he wants to do out there."

Seager's go-ahead single ended an 0-for-15 slide with runners in scoring position in postseason play.

Grandal was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Arrieta in his career before he launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-field pavilion in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Grandal drove in Reddick, who singled and stole second and third.

"He's been so good for the last couple years just because he doesn't give in," Grandal said of Arrieta. "He still made a really good pitch down in the zone. I was just lucky to put a swing on it and hit it out."

Justin Turner homered on the first pitch leading off the sixth to chase Arrieta, who gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He dominated the Dodgers in his previous two starts against them, including a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30, 2015. Los Angeles had gone 2 for 51 against him in two games.

"It's hard to go out there and pitch when your team is not scoring, so you try to be perfect. You can't make any mistakes. If you give up one run, that can be it," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He had one of his best stuff all year, to be honest."

Joc Pederson doubled in a run in the eighth and Grandal hit a run-scoring groundout .

Maddon moved struggling Anthony Rizzo from third to the cleanup spot, and his broken-bat infield hit in the ninth made him 2 for 26 in the postseason. Addison Russell, dropped from fifth to seventh, is 1 for 24. Jason Heyward struck out as a pinch hitter and is 2 for 19.

Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters went 1 for 11 in the game and are 2 for 32 in the series without an RBI.

Dexter Fowler's two-out double in the eighth provided the Cubs' first extra-base hit since their 8-4 win in the opener.

"There's no doubt here," third baseman Kris Bryant said. "We certainly have all the belief in the world. It's a powerful thing when you believe."

With a win Wednesday, the Dodgers could try to finish the series at home.

"These guys won 100-some games. They've got the talent, so you can't think ahead," Grandal said. "If you think ahead, that's when bad things happen."

Four of Chicago's eight shutouts this year have been against the Dodgers.

Roberts hasn't ruled out turning to Clayton Kershaw to pitch on three days' rest in Game 5 on Thursday.

Los Angeles has announced rookie Kenta Maeda as its starter. He's given up seven earned runs in a combined seven innings of his two postseason starts.

In last week's five-game Division Series against Washington, Kershaw pitched in all three wins. He started Game 1 and Game 4, on three days' rest and got his first big league save in Game 5.

"The series circumstances will kind of dictate what decision we make," Roberts said Tuesday. "Clayton feels good after Game 2. He's prepared for anything that we have for him. He's shown the ability to adjust his routine or regimen for whatever is best for our club."

Lackey is 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 postseason appearances. Urias will be the third consecutive left-hander to start for the Dodgers. He earned the victory over Washington in Game 5 of the NLDS with two scoreless innings.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”