There was a different shooting location for Tuesday’s scene, but the Dodgers followed the script to perfection, beating the Cubs 6-1 in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field, moving one step closer to a Hollywood ending to their 2017 season.
Chris Taylor homered and tripled, driving in two runs on Tuesday night, and Yu Darvish was efficiently stingy, giving the Dodgers their third comeback victory in three games, and a commanding series lead of three games to none.
The Dodgers haven’t been this close to the World Series since — say it with me, folks -- 1988.
Game 3 started like the first two NLCS contests did — with a Cubs home run providing the first score of the game. On Tuesday that came courtesy of Kyle Schwarber, whose opposite-field solo shot gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead. It was the first of a trio of hard-hit balls in the opening inning against Darvish, who has a 4.09 ERA in the first inning.
Three hits for the Cubs in the first: 104 mph, 108 mph, 103 mph. Darvish on the ropes.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) October 18, 2017
But Darvish settled down after that, allowing only three singles and a walk the rest of the night, allowing the Dodgers ample room for another comeback.
Andre Ethier erased the deficit rather quickly, leading off the second inning with a home run off his own name on the right field scoreboard, tying the score. Not bad for someone making his first start of the postseason, and in just his second plate appearance in the last 16 days. Ethier was 2-for-4 on the night.
Taylor gave the Dodgers the lead with a solo shot of his own in the third inning, then tripled in the fifth inning to pad the advantage. That triple scored Joc Pederson, who started his first game this postseason as well and doubled.
It was a solid night for Dave Roberts’ casting decisions, and his direction produced compelling theater as well.
Kyle Hendricks faced two batters in the sixth inning and both reached, ending his night. No starting pitcher against the Dodgers this postseason has pitched longer than five innings.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in that sixth inning and with two outs and a two-run lead, Darvish’s spot in the batting order came up. It seemed like a time Darvish might have been pulled, even at just 69 pitches, with an opportunity to add a run or two against reliever Carl Edwards Jr.
But instead, Curtis Granderson was pulled from the on-deck circle and Darvish — 4-for-35 (.114) with 22 strikeouts in his career, including the postseason to that point — was allowed to bat.
Naturally, Darvish walked. On four pitches. He earned this bat flip:
He’s the first Dodgers pitcher to walk with the bases loaded in the postseason., and Darvish is the first with an RBI since Zack Greinke delivered an RBI single in Game 5 of the 2013 NLCS.
The flip side of leaving Darvish in, of course, was that every additional out he could secure would mean one less needed from the bullpen, on the first of potentially three straight nights of baseball.
Now, it might be just two straight nights at Wrigley Field, if the Dodgers have their druthers.
Darvish made the decision to keep him in the game even better with a seven-pitch sixth inning, then struck out Addison Russell to open the seventh, Darvish’s seventh strikeout of the game. That ended his night, but at 6⅓ innings he matched Clayton Kershaw’s NLDS Game 1 for the longest outing by a Dodgers starting pitcher this season.
While the Dodgers were busy tacking on a pair of insurance runs against Cubs relievers, Chicago hitters continued to be flummoxed by the Dodgers bullpen, at least until the ninth.
Schwarber actually walked against Brandon Morrow in the eighth inning, but it wasn’t until the ninth when Alex Avila singled and Albert Almora Jr. doubled against Stripling to open the inning, snapping an 0-for-29 skid by the Cubs against the Dodgers bullpen in the NLCS.
Kenley Jansen entered to restore order, recording the final three outs. He, like Morrow, has pitched in all six games this postseason for the Dodgers.
The Cubs are now 2-for-34 against Dodgers relievers in the NLCS, and have scored four total runs in three games.
That’s the recipe for a 3-0 series lead.
Game 3 particulars
Home runs: Andre Ethier (1), Chris Taylor (2); Kyle Schwarber (1)
WP - Yu Darvish (2-0): 6⅓ IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Kyle Hendricks (1-1): 5+ IP, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts