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Rich Hill has his moment as Dodgers shut out Cubs again

2nd straight shutout gives Dodgers 2-1 NLCS advantage

MLB: NLCS-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Rich Hill showed exactly why the Dodgers traded for him with an inspired performance in Game 3 of the NLCS, spearheading a 6-0 win over the Cubs on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Hill kept the Cubs off balance and mostly off the bases for most of the night, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and two walks.

He struck out six, relying heavily on his curveball, throwing it 55% of the time on Tuesday per Statcast. Hill gave the Dodgers much-needed innings, and lowered his postseason ERA this season to 3.46 with 19 strikeouts in just 13 innings of work.

In four starts this season at Dodger Stadium, Hill has allowed just one run in 23 innings, with 24 strikeouts and five walks.

Coupled with Clayton Kershaw’s seven scoreless frames in Game 2 at Wrigley Field, the Dodgers have back-to-back scoreless starts (of at least five innings) for the first time since Jerry Reuss and Burt Hooton in Game 5 of the 1981 NLDS and Game 1 of the NLCS, respectively.

This was the first time the Dodgers have had back-to-back team shutouts in the postseason.

The Dodgers backed Hill with a run in the third, then tacked on with home runs by Yasmani Grandal — a two-run shot in the fourth — and Justin Turner. Later, a two-run rally put the game away.

The Dodgers have homered in all eight games this postseason, tying 2008-09 for second-longest streak in franchise history. The club hit home runs in 11 straight postseason games in 1977-78.

Though not a save situation, Kenley Jansen entered with a man on and two outs in the eighth inning, up 4-0, and got the final four outs to close out the win.

Slump buster

Corey Seager came into Game 3 in a 1-for-20 slump, but singled in the first inning against Jake Arrieta, then did the same in the third inning, only this time with Andrew Toles on second base. Seager’s second hit scored Toles for a 1-0 Dodgers lead.

I did a double take when Joe Buck mentioned on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast that it snapped an 0-for-15 skid for Seager with runners in scoring position, but those numbers were true, when counting the 2015 postseason. He was 0-for-7 with RISP in the 2015 NLDS, then 0-for-8 to open this year’s postseason.

Seager added another single in the seventh inning and finished his night 3-for-4, his first multi-hit game since September 25.

MLB: NLCS-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers
Corey Seager was 3-for-4 in Game 3
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Slump buster, part II

Yasiel Puig didn’t start on Tuesday, but entered in reserve and singled in both of his at-bats. It snapped an 0-for-10 skid this postseason, and was his first postseason hit since a triple in Game 3 of the 2014 NLDS in St. Louis, going 0-for-17 between postseason hits.

First in steals

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo walked in the second inning, then was watched like a hawk by Hill, who threw over to first base five times despite Rizzo stealing only three bases in eight attempts during the season.

Eventually the self-fulfilling prophecy came true and Rizzo took second base without a throw. But perhaps it just continued a trend.

Adrian Gonzalez, who was 0-for-2 in stolen base attempt during the regular season, stole second base in Game 2 in Chicago.

Men of steal, part II

Josh Reddick reached on an infield single in the fourth inning and scored on Grandal’s home run. But in between first and home he advanced 90 feet two separate times with his legs, stealing second and third. Reddck, who stole eight bases in 11 attempts during the regular season, is the first Dodger with multiple steals in a postseason game since Steve Sax stole three bases in Game 4 of the 1988 NLCS.

The Dodgers as a team stole three bases on Tuesday — Joc Pederson followed an RBI double with a steal of third then scored in the eighth — just the second time all year they did that in a game. They stole five bases against Atlanta on June 4.

Game 4 particulars

Home runs: Yasmani Grandal (1), Justin Turner (2)

WP - Rich Hill (1-1): 6 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

LP - Jake Arrieta (0-1): 5+ IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 5 strikeouts